LeBron James

A potentially simple explanation for LeBron James opting out


Why did LeBron James opt out?

Maybe to make more money.

I expect LeBron to explore his options, mostly just to make the Heat jealous. That way, he can apply pressure on Micky Arison to spend more money.

Unlike Carmelo Anthony, who automatically accepted a lower 2014-15 salary by opting out, LeBron could make more next season.

[MORE: LeBron’s seven most likely landing spots]

LeBron’s current contract calls for a 2014-15 salary of $20,590,000. With a projected salary cap of $63.2 million, he stands to make $20,659,633 in the first-year of a new max contract. He’d also make more – $22,209,105 vs. $22,112,500 – in the second year.

Here’s LeBron’s max salary on a new max contract (gold) and salary on his existing deal (red):


2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
New max $20,659,633 $22,209,105 $23,758,578 $25,308,050 $26,857,523
Existing $20,590,000 $22,112,500

I doubt LeBron is preoccupied with making an additional $69,633 next season (and $96,605 if he stayed in contract the year after).

LeBron is positioned to listen to other pitches, pressure Arison, take a pay cut to make room for other players and/or make more money. Opting out gives him options.

[MORE: LeBron’s wife causes Internet stir with Instagram post]

If he wanted to opt in, why do that rather than opting out and re-signing a two-year deal with a player option for those slightly higher amounts? His flexibility and the Heat’s ability to sign free agents would remain identical.

LeBron had a chance to give himself a small raise. He might have different aspirations, but he’s at least keeping that door open. I doubt many of us would reject that opportunity.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.