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SBD/July 14, 2014/Franchises
LeBron Goes Home: James Keeps Options Open By Signing A Two-Year Deal
Published July 14, 2014
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KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN: In Cleveland, Terry Pluto noted it would "not be a shock if James opted out of his deal at the end of the season, and signed another 2-year contract this like this one -- only the starting point" would be an estimated $22M (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/13). Also in Cleveland, Bud Shaw noted James has "always sought flexibility in his contracts." The same desire "that resulted in opting out of his Miami deal will probably steer this contract, too." It "makes too much business sense" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/11). In Akron, Jason Lloyd wrote Cavaliers fans certainly "may fret over James’ contract structure, and it’s inevitable New York media will at some point speculate about James joining the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony next summer, when the Knicks will have cap space" to acquire James. But his letter on SI.com "made it clear he had no intention of going anywhere else and is committed to the Cavs for the long term" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/13). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami wrote James is "smart enough -- and powerful enough -- to leave himself at least a few escape hatches" in his contract. He "almost certainly has every intention to stay with the Cavaliers forever," as it would look "foolish for him to consider leaving again after coming home." But James "can be a free agent next summer, which puts immense pressure" on Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert and his staff "to upgrade the franchise immediately" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/13).
THE LUXURY OF KNOWING: In Ohio, Bob Finnan wrote the Cavaliers will "likely have to pay the luxury tax," beginning with the '15-16 season. That is when G Kyrie Irving's max contract "will kick in." The "exact figure of his max deal" has not been disclosed, but "it could be for as much" as 25-30% of the team's salary cap. The Cavaliers will have more than $40M "tied up in James and Irving’s contracts." The Cavaliers "haven’t paid the tax since James was on the team the last time." Cavaliers for the '15-16 season (Willoughby NEWS-HERALD, 7/13).
EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT: The PLAIN DEALER's Shaw wrote James is "even more emotionally invested here now and that's a good thing for the city, the team and the Cavaliers' organization." James "someday wants to own and operate a NBA team," and "last time he looked, there was one still doing business 45 minutes from his birthplace." Shaw: "Emotional and physical investment now, financial to come for James?" It will "be fascinating to watch how the Cavs handle things with James given Gilbert's stated desire post-James to build with 'team' in mind." Shaw: "How much say will James have? How much free rein?" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/12). Also in Cleveland, Phillip Morris wrote James in his announcement expressed an interest in "carving out a leadership stake in the community and using his talents to help make Northeast Ohio a better, more inviting and attractive place." Morris: "That’s promising." James "clearly sees himself as an emerging mentor both on and off the court." He is "without a doubt" also a "powerful antidote to the region's brain drain and chronic self-doubt" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/11). In N.Y., William Rhoden wrote James' decision to return to Cleveland is an "intriguing, emotional gambit." James is "either coldly pragmatic or more of an altruist than I could have imagined" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/13).