According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the free agent is only signing a two-year deal:
James has agreed to a two-year, $42.1 million deal with the team with the goal of re-signing with the Cavs before the 2016-17 season when a new television contract is expected to create a large jump in value of the maximum.
As part of the deal, James will have an option to become a free agent next summer but is fully committed to the Cavs long term, sources said.
On one side, James is giving the Cavs time to put together a long-term deal that will also allow them to add more pieces to the roster. Still, the possibility of James leaving after one year is something that could be unsettling for fans and front-office personnel, especially if things don't go well this coming season.
The good news is that the four-time MVP said in his essay with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, "I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there."
ESPN's Marc Stein reports more good news:
ESPN sources say LeBron's contract structure is unlikely to deter Kevin Love from wanting to commit to Cavs if Cleveland can indeed land him— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 13, 2014
James also added his plans to help the Cavaliers build toward the future:
I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go.
I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.
As long as he stays committed to the future and wants to finish his career in Cleveland, the fact that this is a short deal should not become an issue.
ESPN's Darren Rovell breaks down what James' contract means for Dan Gilbert:
NBA team executives I've spoken with estimate that for the $42.2M Dan Gilbert will pay LeBron, he will return $120M+— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) July 13, 2014
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explains one reason for this type of contract:
Can confirm LeBron James will sign a two-year deal w/ Cavs. But it is a business decision to re-negotiate a better deal w/Cavs later.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) July 12, 2014
Teams are given a chance to provide their own players with a higher maximum contract as opposed to external free agents, so he could end up with more money and more years on a future deal. Barring anything drastic, there is no doubt he will be able to do well in negotiations a year or two from now.
Tas Melas of The Starters on NBA TV points out another reason James will be able to make more money in the future:
Reason why LeBron James would sign 2-year deal: Wants to be free for when new TV contract's signed in 2016 to make max money. Business. Man.— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) July 12, 2014
Of course, fans and analysts can still dream about more drama in free agency. Royce Young of ESPN.com provides this addition:
So, per @WindhorstESPN LeBron is signing a two-year deal meaning he'll be a free agent again in 2016... along with Kevin Durant.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 12, 2014
Still, James appears likely to remain in Cleveland for the foreseeable future. The one negative from this is the risk of injury, which could leave him without any guaranteed money past the 2016 season.
Either way, this remains something to keep an eye on over the next two years.
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