The 2016 NBA Finals MVP has decided not to exercise his player option for the 2016-17 season, thus getting him on the open market when free agency begins July 1.
The financials made the opt-out a no-brainer for James. If he signs an one-year contract (or similar opt-out deal) for 2016-17, he can make roughly $3 million more than he’d have under the terms of the prior contract. James could then sign a multi-year deal worth north of $30 million per season when the cap could grow to more than $100 million. If LeBron chooses to sign that long term deal this July instead, he’ll still bring in about $30 million per season.
Although no indication of which deal LeBron wants to sign is given by his agent, it’s a safe bet that the Cavaliers will let him do whatever he desires. James demonstrated in the NBA Finals that he stays a competitive player when needed. Also, he a folk hero in Cleveland. He is needed by the franchise and will submit to any terms as long as he’s present for his championship ring on opening night.
LeBron’s upcoming raise will just exacerbate the Cavaliers’ long term limitation issues, but that’s certainly an acceptable trade-off given all he does for the team. This roster has been built for (and with considerable input from) James and would make no sense without him. It’s a move that is great as long as his business partners and owner Dan Gilbert are ready to pay the luxury tax.
Clarifying LeBron’s status is by no means the only pressing issue for general manager David Griffin and the Cavaliers this offseason. Starting shooting guard J.R. Smith will be an unrestricted free agent, and the team is expected to consider trade offers for power forward Kevin Love.