By: Jason M. Sanin
In his first season back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James took an injured and undermanned team to the NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors. Just one week after the season’s final game, James has made it clear that he is going to opt out of his contract with Cleveland, and become a free agent once again. But this shouldn’t cast doubt among basketball betting experts as to whether or not James will remain with Cleveland going forward.
Why is LeBron James opting out?
On the surface, this sounds like a nefarious maneuver from James, who opted out of his first contract with the Cavaliers before jumping ship and joining the Miami Heat. However, this time around there is virtually no chance of the NBA’s best player leaving his home town team.
Instead of changing teams, James is simply looking to change his financial situation by opting out of this contract. Thanks to astronomical increases in the NBA’s revenue, an increase that is largely the result of a massive television contract, the league’s salary cap is going to increase by nearly $40 million over the next three years.
With the increase in the salary cap will come an increase in the maximum amount of money a player is able to make annually. The maximum salary figure is calculated as a percentage of the total team salary cap, which means that star players will make a much higher amount per season once the salary cap increases.
If James chose to remain in his old contract, he would have been stuck making the maximum dollar amount in a lower salary cap era, and his contract value would not increase with the increases that are sure to happen around the league. This would result in lesser players than James making more money, which could result in a disgruntled star player, something that rarely ends well for teams in the NBA.
Now, James will take a one year contract with the Cavaliers, make just over $22 million in 2015, and then sign for a much higher amount when the salary cap increases in the summer of 2016.
How Does This Affect Cleveland?
In many ways, this doesn’t really affect the Cavaliers at all. James is going to remain with the team, and he is still going to make the maximum amount of money proportional to whatever the salary cap ends up being in the future. If anything, it can be argued that this can only be a positive thing for Cleveland, as giving James what he deserves will make him happy, which will improve his output on the court.
As always, the test for the Cavaliers will be about whether or not they can find the right complimentary talent to surround LeBron James to put their team in the best possible position to win. As we saw during the 2015 postseason, the health of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, if he stays with the team, will be the determining factors when tipsters are predicting just how far this team can go.