Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is reportedly seeking a max-contract in his next deal, according to Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
In the past, we’ve seen superstar players offer discounts in contract negotiations to allow teams to stay flexible in the cap and have the ability to spend more money on other players. But James is reportedly not willing to offer a discount on his next contract and will only accept a max deal.
The middle of the regular season is not the time for final decisions, but James’ position on maximum contracts hasn’t changed, sources said.
A max contract for James will start in the neighborhood of $35 million during the first year of the deal. Of course, it will be up to James to decide how many years he’d like to sign his next contract for. James is expected to opt out of his $35,607,968 player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
If James becomes a free agent, teams all over the league will be lining up with hopes to secure a meeting with him. The Los Angeles Lakers were once thought to be the frontrunner to land James if he leaves Cleveland, but a report yesterday by ESPN indicated that it may be a long shot that James signs with the Lakers. A report surfaced earlier this week stating the Houston Rockets believe they have a real chance at signing James, while rival executives have named the Philadelphia 76ers as a possibility as well.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that James wants to sign for the max. He is one of the best players in the league right now and it can be argued that his value to the Cavaliers and NBA well exceeds the $33 million he is earning this season. He has earned the right to name his price for his next contract and it looks as though teams will be clearing the necessary cap space to offer him that deal.
James, in his 15th season in the NBA, is currently having one of his best seasons in recent memory. He is averaging 28.1 points, a career-high 9.1 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game. In addition, he’s also shooting a career-high 41.1 percent from three-point range.