LOS ANGELES — LeBron James is hoping he can become a free agent at the end of the season.
He has already told the Lakers he wants them to keep him and has said he would like to play there in a second contract.
ESPN reported Sunday that James is “hoping” to sign a second deal with the Lakers, a report the team denied.
LeBron James wants to play in a Lakers uniform again.
He said that was a ‘deal breaker’ for him to sign.
The Los Angeles Lakers have declined comment on the report.
ESPN has previously reported James wants the Lakers to retain him and would be willing to pay more than $150 million over three years for him.
The report said James has “high expectations” for the Lakers and said he believes the team is in a position to “sign another star” before the end.
James is a free-agent for the first time since the end-of-season All-Star Game.
He’s also in the final year of a six-year, $90 million contract that he signed after winning the NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Sunday night that James wants a new contract to “give him a little bit more freedom” and “allow him to focus on the game and be more focused on himself.”
James has been criticized by some NBA teams for the length of his contract, which was made public in March.
The Lakers, who have the ninth-most salary-cap space in the NBA, have the third-highest salary-tax burden in the league behind the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics.
The Warriors are the only team without cap space for next season.
ESPN said James wants an extension that will allow him to play longer.
“The biggest thing for me is that I feel like I’m going to be a free man after this season,” James said.
“I think that’s the biggest thing.
That’s the only thing that’s going to help me out a little.”