CLEVELAND - LeBron James signed a two-year, $42.1 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers that provides flexibility for the NBA's biggest star with the league's maximum salary expected to rise in the future.
A person familiar with the negotiations said Saturday that James' contract includes an option for the four-time league MVP to become a free agent next summer. However, it is strictly "a business deal," according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not commented about the agreement.
By only signing for two years, James can get another contract with the Cavs before the 2016-17 season when a new television deal is expected to push the maximum contract higher. The max contract for next season is $20.7 million. Until this deal, James had never been the highest paid player on his team in 11 seasons as a pro.
James announced he was returning to the Cavaliers on Friday, picking Cleveland over Miami and reversing the decision he made four years ago to sign as a free agent with the Heat.
In an essay in Sports Illustrated, James indicated he will finish his career in Cleveland and the Cavaliers are confident he is committed to them long-term.
ESPN.com first reported the deal for James.
The four-time MVP is in Brazil to watch Sunday's World Cup final. Just a few hours after arriving in Rio De Janiero, James said soccer's showcase event is bigger than the NBA Finals "in the sense that it's the world and you have so many countries here."
His decision to come back to his native Ohio was universally applauded. In a powerful essay in SI, the 29-year-old laid out his reasons for returning and said his relationship with Northeast Ohio "is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."