‘The King’ Opts Out

LeBron James by Keith Allison, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Keith Allison 

There is a saying that ‘home is where your heart is.’ Does that saying apply to one LeBron James?

NBA megastar LeBron James plans to forego his $21.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which will make him a free agent July 1.

The move is as expected according to the team. However, James is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to make sure the team keeps the roster that went to the NBA Finals this past season. Specifically, James wants to make sure that his teammate Tristan Thompson, who is also represented by James’ agent Rich Paul, is prioritized as #1 on the re-sign list. Thompson could receive a deal worth more than $13 million per year according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

James is also waiting to see what Kevin Love does as a free agent before he reaches a deal with the Cavs. Love has said throughout the season that he plans to return to the team. If he is true to his word, the team plans to give Love a max contract of 5 years, $110 million.

James’ plan to opt out is also due in no small part to the fact that he could receive somewhere near $130 million next offseason when the salary cap and max salaries expand. In order to get that money, he will most likely sign to another short-term deal with the Cavs before getting the max deal.

Why LeBron Really Left Miami

 Whether you believe it or not, LeBron James directly influences most if not all of the Cavaliers’ decisions this offseason. When he decided to leave Miami, a number of reasons were made up including Dwyane Wade’s injuries and James’ desire to return home. While those reasons may be true, I think the factor that played the biggest part in his decision was control of the team.

Miami Heat executive Pat Riley was not willing to cater to James the same way the Cavs are. He reasonably thought decisions such as player personnel, contract negotiations, and head coaching should be left up to management not players. In short, James wanted to be a modern-day king but Riley brought him back down to reality.

Having this much control of the Cavs is probably bringing LeBron one step closer to achieving his future goal of becoming the owner of an NBA franchise someday.

To answer my question at the start of this article, I think home (Cleveland) is where James’ heart is as long as he is able to be king there.