LeBron James has told the Cleveland Cavaliers that he will not opt in for the final year of his contract, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The decision means that James will officially become a free agent on July 1.

By declining his $35.6 million option for the 2018-2019 season, James has all but eliminated most of the league from potentially acquiring him. He can no longer force a trade to a team that doesn’t have enough room under the salary cap to sign him, likely leaving the Cavs, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers as the only remaining contenders for the NBA’s best player.

Friday’s news specifically affects the Houston Rockets. They are the one team with no cap space that was considered to be a realistic destination for James. James is good friends with Rockets’ point guard Chris Paul, and Houston came one victory away from eliminating the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.

The Rockets were still a long shot to acquire James in a trade, even before he opted to become a free agent. Because Paul and Clint Capela are due for new contracts this summer, the team would’ve had to find a taker for Ryan Anderson’s contract, in addition to unloading other assets.

Before the offseason began, there were rumors that James might consider joining other teams that had no cap space, namely the Boston Celtics. Boston took Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they could conceivably challenge Golden State next season by adding James, though it was always an extreme long shot that the Cavs would send James to the Celtics.

The Lakers are considered to be the favorites to land James, and his decision to become a free agent might only increase Los Angeles’ odds of signing the three-time champion. L.A. is the only team this offseason that has the ability to sign two free agents to max contracts. The Lakers could add both James and Paul George, though the latter is seriously considering re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

James’ decision doesn’t hurt the Cavs’ chances to keep him. It could just mean that he plans to sign a more lucrative deal to remain in Cleveland. James has the ability to sign a contract worth well over $200 million to stay in his hometown.

Some believe that the LeBron James Sweepstakes has really been a two-team race between the Lakers and Cavs all along. James owns homes in both L.A. and Akron, and his decision is expected to encompass much more than just basketball.

Philadelphia is still in the mix since they have the cap space to offer James a max contract. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the 76ers believe they can become the frontrunners to land James if they acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.

The Lakers are also trying to trade for Leonard, who will likely be dealt at some point.

LeBron James Cavaliers Rockets LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers tries to drive around Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on Feb. 3, 2018 in Cleveland. Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images