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.