LeBron James will turn down his player option worth more than $21.573MM, and he doesn’t plan to immediately re-sign with the Cavs, preferring to wait and see how the team goes about its other business in July, reports Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Chances are “slim” that James leaves Cleveland again, Haynes writes, but waiting to re-sign gives him a chance to go into a deal with full knowledge of what will surround him, and it keeps pressure on the organization, Haynes writes. The Rich Paul client plans to be “the last domino to fall,” league sources tell Haynes.
GM David Griffin said James is “very much engaged” with the team as he speaks with management on almost a daily basis about the roster, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Still, it’s widely known that James won’t meddle in front office affairs or with coach David Blatt and his staff, according to Haynes. The four-time MVP believes other coaches would be better equipped to lead the Cavs to a title, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson among them, but he nonetheless has no intention to push for a coaching change, as Chris Broussard of ESPN.com said this week (video link).
That James would opt out is not at all surprising, since opting in would entail a financial sacrifice. James will be able to make a salary of at least $21,676,620 next season on a new deal, slightly more than his option would give him, and that figure could grow higher, depending on where the league sets the maximum for a player with 10 or more years of experience. James is likely to re-sign with Cleveland on a max deal for two years with a player option on year two, as Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group wrote months ago.
James wants the Cavs to re-sign Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, though he won’t actively recruit any of them, Haynes writes. Griffin has said that he’d like to keep the team together, though he expressed guarded interest in Smith as he confirmed Smith has opted out, saying the Cavs want him back “if it’s the right situation for us,” as Haynes notes.