Cavaliers, Headlines

LeBron James discusses potentially purchasing the Cavaliers

When on the beat, some of the most redeeming work comes on off days when the team isn’t pummeling the new cycle with ephemeral news items like injuries, lineup changes, or the explanation (or lack thereof) of memes posted in the middle of the night. For Jason Lloyd at The Athletic, his latest off day piece may be the must-read story of the still-young season as it’s truly the first time LeBron James opens up about life after basketball as it pertains to the Cavaliers.

In a story that’s well worth your time, Lloyd talks to several players who have received higher compensation through their careers due to playing alongside James. From Anderson Varejao all the way to J.R. Smith, players on both the Cavaliers and Miami Heat have seen their weekly compensation increase as a result of James helping bring them into the spotlight. But while everyone is focused on LeBron’s eventual free agency, in a section dubbed “What’s Next?”, James gets much bigger than a one- or two-year contract.

“I know how much the team cost when he bought it,” James told The Athletic. “And I know how much it’s worth now — over $1 billion if he wanted it.”

James’ future is obviously of great interest to Cleveland and the rest of the NBA. While every day brings a new storyline of where he will end up in free agency next summer, he has made it clear he wants to own an NBA team when he is done playing. But he insists he has not had any conversations with Gilbert about purchasing a portion — or all — of the Cavs when he retires.

“To be an owner of any team would be crazy. If this thing opened up and I’m in a position financially, and I’ve got the right team around me, obviously. But who’s to say Dan will (sell)?” James said. “I’ve always kept it just player/owner at this point. I guess once I come down to that point, if the conversation needed to be had, I’ll have it. But I don’t have it right now.”

Lloyd delves in to the current salary cap situation and how much the top end guys in the NBA are drastically underpaid, but for guys like James, his off-court earnings would be what allows him to even be in the conversation to eventually be an owner. Fans talk about rarefied air as it comes to superstars. Owning a team is on a whole other level.

James could guarantee himself $53 million more if he decides to stay in Cleveland this offseason, but it’s clear that his aspirations are much, much bigger than his on-court earnings.

Editor’s Note: Quotes published with author’s permission.

  • Eric G

    It’s crazy for us normal people to think that a $53M option is, in fact, an option.

  • Chris

    Overall, is the NBA the best league for players? Best paid stars… check. Best player marketing… check. Best paid mid-level players (JR, TT, and the likes)… probably. Career longevity… probably behind NHL and MLB, but it’s certainly up there. The biggest knock I can think of is roster sizes.

  • Dave

    Part of that has to be that the National Basketball Players Association routinely fights hard for their union members. That periodic working through lockouts and strikes doesn’t help superstars like LeBron all that much (because they’ll get paid handsomely either way), but makes a huge difference to the end-of-the-bench players you’ve never even heard of that make closer to $400K rather than millions.

  • mgbode

    Depends on how you look at it. Given 82 games in 20K arenas with 13-15 roster size, you get the money you get. I’d like to see a breakdown of revenue %’s from the latest round of CBA in each league to see who is doing the best for their players. Even that is tough to figure out though given the hidden revenues, etc.

    However, due to the limited roster sizes and faces (not helmets) seen on TV, the NBA players do have the most influence/power in their league. So, players that want that side of the game would see the NBA as the best for players.

  • Steve

    All these things are fairly intertwined. Everyone makes more money when there are fewer people to share it with. And then once you have veterans making more money, especially in a capped league, teams will be looking to find cheaper younger players.