LeBron James has a player option for 2016/17, allowing him to opt out and potentially sign with another team in July. However, on the heels of leading the Cavaliers to the first championship in franchise history, James tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that he doesn’t intend to leave Cleveland.
“I love it here. I love being here. I love my teammates,” James said on the day of the Cavs’ championship parade through downtown Cleveland. “Obviously my agent will take care of all the logistical things but, I’m happy. I’ve got no plans to go nowhere at this point.”
While James intends to return to the Cavaliers for next season, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll exercise his player option. That option is worth just over $24MM, and with the salary cap on the rise, opting out and signing a new deal with Cleveland probably makes more sense for the Finals MVP.
As James alludes to, the “logistical things” he’ll let his agent handle are somewhat complicated when taking into account Cleveland’s lack of Bird Rights for LBJ, the rising salary cap, and the looming CBA negotiations. There are a handful of possible scenarios in play for LeBron’s next contract, but if he prioritizes being able to opt out and re-up again in 2017, he likely won’t be able to earn a true max salary in 2016/17, though he’ll be able to sign for more than his player option is worth. Bobby Marks of The Vertical explains the possible scenarios for LeBron’s next contract.
Although James didn’t receive any first-place MVP votes this past season, he looked like the best player in the world during the postseason, as the Cavaliers lost just five of their 21 playoff games. In those 21 contests, LeBron averaged 26.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.6 assists in 39.1 minutes per game, along with a .525 FG%.