Speaking at a charity homecoming event in his native Akron, LeBron James insisted to reporters on Friday night that he planned to stay put in Cleveland despite signing only a two-year deal that includes an opt-out clause next summer, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. The public comments were the first by James since announcing he would return to the Cavaliers via Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins.
“I’m not going anywhere,” James said. “I don’t have the energy to do it again.”
As Lloyd points out, James implied that his decision to opt for a shorter deal with the Cavs had more to do with the impending league television contract rather than a desire to keep his options open destination-wise. Depending on what happens with that TV deal, a shorter contract should put James, and other free agents with fortunate timing, in line for a significant raise should they warrant a maximum salary contract.
“At the end of the day I’m a businessman as well and I know what’s going on in our league,” James added.
James tiptoed around making comments about Kevin Love‘s arrival in Cleveland, since the deal cannot become official until August 23. LeBron did go as far as calling Love a “great piece” that “played a huge role” in Team USA capturing the gold medal in London’s 2012 Summer Olympics. Should Love help him bring Cleveland its first championship in over 50 years, James said it “would be the greatest achievement in my life as far as on the court,” as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt writes.
As Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN remind us, the Cavs were not initially willing to include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in a deal for a Love, a stance that quickly changed after the addition of James became official. Cleveland’s confidence in retaining Love for the long-term has grown, mostly because of James, and it now appears that they’ll also be keeping the NBA’s biggest star for the foreseeable future as well.