When LeBron James made the decision to return to Cleveland after four years in Miami, he signed a new contract with an eye on 2016, when the league would receive an influx of new TV money. His deal was for two years, with a one-year opt-out, which he’s expected to use. However, before Game 5 of the Finals, he insisted that he hasn’t even thought about this upcoming decision yet.
Predictably, that’s where James’ focus is today, and not on the business decisions waiting regarding his contract this summer. A secondary, but no-less-symbolic reason he’s not thinking about his contract: James said last week he’s “happy” in Cleveland.
“Ha, I haven’t even thought about that until you just said something,” James told the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “I’ll tackle all of that after the season, but, yeah, I’m happy where I’m at.”
There isn’t a lot of drama surrounding this free agency decision, the way there was last summer. It would be legitimately shocking if he left Cleveland again, given all the talk about wanting to come home and build something long-term in his home state. The advantage to opting out would be the ability to sign another one-year deal worth slightly more than the second-year player option on his current contract.
After taking less money to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami in 2010, James has been clear that he’s not going to take any more discounts. That’s why he signed the short-term deal, rather than a longer contract like Carmelo Anthony did when he re-signed in New York. Whether he picks up his option or opts out and signs another short-term deal, James’ plan is going to be to sign a long-term deal in 2016, when he can make significantly more money than he could under the current salary cap.