The contract maneuver was expected in a grass-is-green sort of way. Regardless, LeBron James will reportedly opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Unlike previous free agency iterations involving the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, this one isn't expected to take long and certainly isn't expected to include a team change, in theory.
James, an Ohio native, returned to Cleveland last year amid great fanfare after dumping the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat four years prior on national television. He signed a two-year deal for $42 million in July 2014 with a desired player option for the second season. From Cleveland.com:
James will take a wait-and-see approach while the Cavaliers tend to their housekeeping matters, league sources told Northeast Ohio Media Group. The four-time MVP has a player option deadline of Monday, and he will decline to pick up that deal for next season. The belief is James wants to observe how management goes about retaining and accumulating assets keep the organization in win-now mode and improve the roster.
The Cavs reached the NBA Finals in James' first year back. Now Cleveland has several contractual situations to resolve, including Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
Don't expect James to leave. Also, expect his next contract to include an opt-out for next year so James can ultimately take advantage of the projected salary cap rise in 2016. Cleveland.com writes, "The chance of James bolting the city of Cleveland for a second time is slim, but his approach will allow him to assess the Cavaliers' moves before re-signing. It also applies pressure on the organization to do whatever is necessary to strengthen the team."
In other words, James will be back, but if he doesn't like what the Cavs are doing, he might change his decision.
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