Everyone knew the announcement was coming, but at the strike of 12:01 a.m. EST on Thursday, July 9, the moratorium ended and teams could actually (*officially*) sign players to contracts. Today, LeBron James agreed to a one-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers for around $23 million — or the maximum allowable under the CBA.
Mark Cuban’s favorite ESPN reporter broke the news on Twitter:
The only surprise is that LeBron agreed to re-sign before fellow free agent, Tristan Thompson. The pair share the same agent, Rich Paul, and the belief was LeBron would leverage his free agency to apply pressure on the Cavs to get Thompson re-signed at, or above, market value.
Also, he has a player option for 2016-17, but he won’t exercise it, so this really is a one-year deal.
Aside from that, though, it went just about the same way most expected. The whole gang is back. Kevin Love officially re-signed today as well, after reaching an agreement during the moratorium.
But why did LeBron only re-sign for a single year when he could have just as easily inked for the maximum allowable: in his case, five years at more than $22.97 million per season.
Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s because of the escalating salary cap due to the TV rights dollars flooding the market next summer. Even this year’s cap was higher than expected. The NBA is getting paid, and the players will benefit (not as much as the owners, but that’s a tale for another time).
So LeBron, naturally, wants some of that windfall. Other players have made the same move this summer, structuring three- or four-year deals with a player option in the final year to take advantage of what could be a cash money bonanza as the NBA coffers are filled with the network moolah.
This also doubles as a ploy by LeBron so he never again finds himself in the same situation he was in during his final year in Miami. Namely, that management would pinch pennies when they should have been spending like mad in the brief window they got to employ the best basketball player on the planet.
That’s not hyperbole. When you have LeBron, your only objective is to win a title. That’s all Cleveland should be focused on for the next half decade. LeBron’s one-year deal is just making sure they remain true to that maxim next summer.