TUESDAY, 1:17pm: James has officially opted out, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
SUNDAY, 2:53pm: LeBron James will opt out of his contract with the Cavaliers and become a free agent for the second straight summer, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Sources tell Chris Broussard of ESPN.com that James will not visit other teams and will re-sign with Cleveland later this summer (Twitter link). A report earlier this week said James will take his time and see what moves Cleveland makes before becoming “the last domino to fall.”
James, who turned down more than $21.5MM for next year, is expected to sign another one-year contract with a player option and then command a longer deal once the cap rises with the new TV contract in 2016, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Kennedy reassures Cavs fans that they shouldn’t worry, saying James’ plan from the start has been to maximize his earnings potential and power within the franchise (Twitter link). A source close to James said, “I expect him to sign back,” according to Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The deadline for James to agree to the option on his current contract was Monday, and the earliest he can sign a new deal is July 9th.
Cleveland GM David Griffin said recently that the team had been in contact with James about roster decisions since the NBA Finals ended, Windhorst writes. However, he cited sources who said James will remove himself from the free agency process while the Cavaliers make decisions on Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and others. James’ new deal will be worth around $22MM, but the exact amount won’t be determined until the July moratorium ends.
The potential value of a long-term contract should escalate dramatically in 2016, tweets Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. If James had accepted a full max deal when he left Miami for Cleveland last summer, it would have been four years at about $89MM. By waiting until next summer, those figures will be five years and $170MM (Twitter link), although the amount is just an estimate.