Coming home is one thing, but making the most of what the NBA can give you in terms of money is more important. LeBron James returns to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he isn’t signing a deal that’s longer than two years, knowing full well that a lot more money can come his way once a new television deal with the NBA is signed.
Instead of that four-year deal everyone was talking about, the 29-year old James signed a two-year, $42 million contract with the Cavs. If there was pressure on him and the Cavs, which also means new head coach David Blatt, this makes it even more interesting. The Cavs need to add pieces before they really seem good and deep enough to make a serious title run, but the small window of opportunity due to James’ contract makes it even more intense to put the right team together.
It also brings some fears of desertion to Cleveland fans. James isn’t doing this because he’s thinking of leaving. He’s doing it because the wants to make as much as he can from the game after signing a deal that was something of a discount in 2010. A new television deal with the NBA before the 2016-2017 season means more money to everyone, and James doesn’t want to miss out because loyalty or some sense of debt.
All through James’ career, he and those surrounding him have always tried to see the future and be prepared for it. It was so when he extended his deal with the Cavs, and also when he decided to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat. We’ll never know the truth: Was he planning to do this all along or everything happened because of that loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The answer probably depends on what your personal opinion of James is.
But James has taken some haters off his back with his decision to get back to Cleveland. Maybe he has some new anti-LeBron members in Miami who feel betrayed by watching him walk away after losing in the finals, but overall, it seems there is a sense of James going to where he should be. There are no homegrown players in the NBA, but for someone who played in Ohio for 25 of his 29 years, Cleveland probably is a bit more special than any other team.
This doesn’t mean James is already thinking about his next team. It means he’s thinking about his next contract, and getting the maximum money possible. Who knows – maybe in two years he won’t be worth that much money anymore, and having a new deal coming his way might actually lose him future earnings. Right now there’s no reason to believe that will happen, although it might be safe to assume he’ll no longer be the best basketball player on the planet anymore.