While we're all focused on which minimum-wage guard is going to fill our one remaining need on the Celtics, many General Managers around the league have their eyes on Cleveland… because today the Cavs can officially offer LeBron James a contract extension.
contract extension because July 18 is the three-year anniversary of
when he signed his most recent contract. It is believed the team will
initiate contact soon to formally present an offer, which can be an
extension of up to three years and around $65 million. James still has
an option in his contract for the 2010-11 season, and the Cavs could
offer three years on top of that.
I'm begging LeBron to take the offer for a couple of reasons. 1: It would screw all those other teams that have banked on him opting out. 2: I don't want to see all the media coverage that will follow him if he turns the offer down this summer. I'm already getting ready for the crush of coverage once they make the official offer.
And this whole "where will LeBron go in 2010" thing is mostly a media creation anyway. Yes, LeBron has fanned the flames a bit, which is a smart business move. If he didn't leave that door open, the Cavs would probably open with a "hometown discount" kind of offer. But since LeBron's stated goal is to become a billionaire, he's got to make sure they come strong right off the bat.
But no matter how you look at it, staying in Cleveland makes the most sense.
No one can offer him what Cleveland can because they can just give him the max deal… while other teams can only offer what's left under a shrinking salary cap. Yes, there's a sign-and-trade possibility… but there's almost no way to make that kind of money match… at least not with the teams shedding money for 2010.
LeBron is already the league's top pitch-man. He's the face of the league. Everyone who knows basketball knows LeBron James. So the whole "going to New York to increase his exposure" is pure bull. Maybe that'll work for Brandon Roy some day… but it's silly to think a bigger market will mean bigger deals for LeBron.
On top of that, fans like loyalty. LeBron can deflect talk of the max contract money by simply saying "I'm from Cleveland… and ultimately I want to bring a championship to my home." If anything is going to enhance his image, it's that sentiment… not becoming a mercenary and leaving your hometown fans in a lurch.
Cleveland was the #1 seed last year. They're reloading again and remain one of only 2 or 3 teams in the East with a legitimate shot at a title. Is he going to go to New York, where they're maybe going fight for one of the last couple of playoff spots? Is he going to join the Nets and lose just to hang with his boy Jay Z a little more often? Like he can't do that anyway.
So brace yourselves for a big manufactured story as this whole "will he or won't he" thing begins. But while you're watching it… just know that there isn't a single option other than staying in Cleveland that makes sense.