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LeBron James stands to lose $3M by signing one-year deal with Cavs

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If LeBron James does in fact return to the Cleveland Cavaliers next season and sign his patented one-year deal with a player option, he stands to lose about $3 million when compared what he could make on the open market, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports.

James made no bones about his intent to stay with the Cavaliers and defend the team’s title, telling ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“I love it here in Cleveland. I have no intentions of leaving. There are some technicalities to take care of I’ll leave up to my agent. That’s right from the horse’s mouth.”

The “some technicalities” James mentions could involve taking a significant pay cut — at least for next season — as the Cavaliers could only pay him $27.5 million next season.

If James elected to pick up the player option year on his current contract, he would earn $24 million for the 2016-17 NBA campaign, something no one expects him to do.

The reason behind the Cavs’ inability to pay James more than $27.5 million next season is twofold. First of all, as noted by Windhorst, the Cavaliers are hamstrung by salary cap issues. Secondly, since the team doesn’t have James’ full “Larry Bird Rights,” the Cavaliers are limited in the size of raise the team can give him.

Meanwhile, there are approximately 20 teams that could pay James $30.8 million next season. James conceivably could earn that much next season with the Cavaliers if he signed a two-year, $64 million deal with the team.

But all indications point to James once again signing a one-year deal with the player option, given that in 2017 the salary cap could increase substantially due to the possibility of new collective bargaining agreement rules.

That means James would simply have to wait one more year before signing the megadeal of all megadeals.