LeBron James will be a free agent this summer.
Except it’s not “here we go again” from last summer because nobody around the league thinks LeBron is going to bolt Cleveland again.
Still, it is now official, LeBron has told the Cavaliers he will opt out. Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports went to Twitter with the report.
It’s quaint LeBron wants to pretend to leverage the Cavaliers into roster upgrades, as if he didn’t have that kind of leverage without the waiting period. He wants
He will re-sign with the Cavaliers, another max deal with another opt-out after one year. Then he will opt out again in the summer of 2016 and sign another max deal, this one under the new salary cap that spikes with the influx of money from the new television contract. He’s not taking a discount, and the leverage game is a reminder to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert that he needs to keep spending to win.
The reality is LeBron is not deserting Cleveland again. He will not even meet with other teams.
LeBron did a lot to restore his reputation over the past year with the move back home to Cleveland — which sold well to a national audience — and his play in the NBA Finals despite losing. His image is better, to leave again would tarnish that image. Plus, where is he going to go where he has a young Kyrie Irving (and most likely Kevin Love) on his team, plus have this kind of control over the organization?
Short of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert professing his allegiance to the so-called Islamic State — or some other radically unexpected stupid move that forces LeBron’s hand — he’s not leaving the Cavaliers again. LeBron is home for good.