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LeBron James To Opt Out, Not Planning Quick Deal

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 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 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.

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17 thoughts on “LeBron James To Opt Out, Not Planning Quick Deal

  1. Jeremy

    I’ll be the first to say it…

    PG Goran Dragic
    SG Dwyane Wade
    SF LeBron James
    PF Chris Bosh
    C Hassan Whiteside

    Possibly the best starting 5 in NBA history. Food for thought (and yes I recognize it would take a ton of maneuvering)

    • Charlie

      The PR backlash LeBron would suffer from returning to Miami (pretending it’s even financially possible) would be… very high… to say the least…

      • Jeremy

        Just curious.. why is Miami always the “bad guy”??? He won here, he played the best of his career here, his best friend is here? Why is it “bad” when he’s leaving for Miami… yet “good” when he leaves Miami? No hypocrisy here? Lebron once delcared “people from Akron don’t even like Cleveland” and during the Christmas game against the Heat he was caught on mic telling Wade he would “reunite and do bigger and better things…”

        As for financial.. it would probably take some work of losing Deng / restructuring Chris Bosh, and a similar financial sacrifice they had in 2010. If Mickey Arison was willing to eat the $$$ they could simply have Deng opt out, trade Birdman, sign Lebron, and use Wade’s Birdrights to re sign him to whatever he wanted.

        • Charlie

          I don’t think Miami is the bad guy; I had no problem with LBJ’s decision to sign there in 2010 (only with the way he went about it), but one year after declaring “I’m coming home,” and implying, or maybe even explicitly stating (I can’t remember), that he would never leave Cleveland again & promising them a title… I think you can see how he might be vilified for a decision to leave after returning for a single year.

          Plus, Bosh just signed a huge contract, and restructuring deals is not allowed under the current CBA. In order to re-sign LeBron, Deng would have to voluntarily opt out (they can’t force him), and then they’d still have to renounce Wade’s Bird Rights. Only then would they have enough cap room, and then one or both of Wade/LeBron would need to take a pay cut to return to Miami.

          Additionally, trading Birdman and his $5MM contract without taking any guaranteed salary in return is not an easy task.

          • Jeremy

            The only time he said he would not leave cleveland again was in jest when asked in a press conference. I think it was something like “nah man.. I’m done moving around”. He also said in his first year in Miami that people from Akron hate Cleveland.. so there’s that too lol.

            As for your your financial points.. the Heat would probably be secondary to what would happen (as they were in 2010) and Lebron / Wade/ Deng / Dragic and others would group together to figure out the math.

            You say birdman would be hard to trade? The Heat unloaded Michael Beasley (with a bigger contract) for a future 2nd round pic quite easily. That’s one thing Riley is very very good at.

  2. Jeremy

    Another food for thought comment. Had Lebron not gone back to Cleveland they would have a core of Wiggins, Irving, Thompson… and more than enough cap space to go after an Aldridge..or add small pieces and make a run at Durant or Kawhi Leonard next summer. Was the failed chance at 1 title worth giving up the possible next 10 years of success?

  3. ShadowChronicler

    It really comes down to one question from LeBron, “What should I do?”
    Let’s be honest, we all knew he was going to play this game if the Cavs didn’t win a title. I’ll call it now, he’s leaving again.

  4. KnicksCavsFan

    I seriously, seriously doubt LBJ is leaving the Cavs again. His brand would be decimated beyond repair.

    I see this as simply a power move. His agent Rich Paul reps Tristan Thompson as well and I heard that he wants to see Trist squared away first along with Love, Smith, Shump, etc before addressing him. Of all the parties involved, LBJ is probably the least concerned with $$$ seeing as how he makes so much more from other sources. It doesn’t mean he WON’T ask for the max but if taking $3 mil less is the difference between the Cavs having cap space for that one additional player then maybe he gives a bit of a discount which can be paid back the following year.

    • Jeremy

      Actually.. Lebron is the most concerned about $$$. He told Wade and Bosh last year that they would need to take less to insure he got the max, which is why both opted out (he then screwed them over, especially wade). Lebron constantly talks about how he is the “most underpaid athlete in history”… if you think he doesn’t care about money.. you are delusional my friend lol.

      • KnicksCavsFan

        LBJ is probably the best player in the NBA and most would agree. He has NEVER been among the top 5 highest player in the NBA. He left the Cavs to take less money to play for the Heat. During his years with the Heat he, Bosh and Wade all earned about the same salaries.

        2010-Bosh and James tied for #21 highest paid at $14.5 mil (Wade made $14.2)

        2011-Bosh and James tied for #13 highest paid at $17,545 mil (Wade made $15.7)

        2012-Bosh and James tied for #7 at $19 mil with Wade at $18.7 mil.

        2013- Same as 2012.

        2014 w/ the Cavs James tied Bosh for #5 with $20.6 mil earned.

        James has NEVER been in the top 5 in salaries. Seeing as he came into the league the same time as Carmelo I assume that he could’ve signed for the max. Carmelo signed back with the Knicks for $22.5 mil so I’m sure he could’ve asked for more.

        I’m not saying he ISN’T about the money this time, but his actions have shown in the past that it hasn’t been MORE important than winning.

        When he left the Cavs in 2010 he made $1.3 million less than he did in his last year with the Cavs and if he had stayed with the Cave he probably could’ve have earned about $18 to $20 mil a year on his new re-up with them.

        • Jeremy

          He signed for the max with the Cavs.. if he signs there again he will again sign for the MAX he can.. IE he will be #1 or #2 in the NBA next season. If he signs with someone else (Heat or otherwise) he will again deman the max available…. Just because the max is less than the most in the NBA doesn’t change his demand in anyway

          • KnicksCavsFan

            I never made a claim about the LAST contract that he signed. What I said was, he’s shown that $$$ was not his biggest concern in the past.

            a) Cavs could’ve offered him the MOST money of any team in 2010 but he turned it down to go to Miami.

            b) His initial contract for the Heat was NOT a max contract. In fact, he made less his 1st year with the Heat than he did the last year with Cavs (in 2009-2010).

            So who knows…if it comes down to it, maybe he’ll give a discount if needed. He can always opt out again next year and they can make it up to him once the salary cap goes up again,

      • KnicksCavsFan

        And while I’m a Cavs supporter I’m not really a “LBJ is the greatest player that ever laced sneakers” kind of fanboy. I’m sure he may have told RILEY what he wanted as opposed to telling Wade and Bosh what they would have to settle for in their next contract.

        • Jeremy

          No.. shortly after the 2014 finals Wade Bosh and Lebron met at Prime 112 and Lebron told them he wanted them to take less so he could re sign for the max.. this was well covered by ESPN and others a year ago

          • KnicksCavsFan

            Did ESPN have a seat at the table? I can’t see Wade or Bosh repeating that to anyone.

          • KnicksCavsFan

            And anyway, he may have told them what his intent was but ultimately, wouldn’t it be Riley’s job to figure out where to get the money from?

            Still…you harp on that “rumor” yet ignore the FACT that he took less money to come to Miami, He could’ve gotten a max contract from Cleveland as a returning player AND he could’ve gotten a max 4 year deal with ANY other team that was after him. He took less money (as did Bosh and Wade). That’s a fact.

  5. Daniel

    If lebron opts out(which is highly doubtful), then where will he go

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