CLEVELAND — A person familiar with the negotiations says LeBron James has signed a two-year, $42.1 million contract with the Cavaliers.
The contract includes an option for James to become a free agent next summer, but it is strictly “a business deal,” according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday on condition of anonymity because the team has not commented about the agreement.
In an essay in Sports Illustrated, James indicated he will finish his career in Cleveland.
ESPN.com first reported the deal for James.
LeBron James’ decision to come home to Cleveland is being hailed as a story about the power of forgiveness and maturity and a victory for a blue-collar Northern city over a destination spot in glitzy Miami.
Now that the decision has finally been made, what does it mean for the long-struggling team on the court?
The four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion left the Heat and returned to the team he left in 2010 largely due to the lure of home. But it could be argued that the Cavaliers could be a better decision purely from a basketball standpoint.
The Cavaliers offer him a youthful roster with three more No. 1 overall picks in addition to James. They have a handful of extra first-round draft picks that allow the team the flexibility to make trades or continue to add talent to the roster around him.
And they have a devoted fan base that is desperate for a champion in a city that hasn’t won a pro sports title since 1964.
Here are a few things to watch in the return of James to Cleveland.
Kyrie Factor: One of the Heat’s big weaknesses last season was the lack of consistent point guard play. Mario Chalmers was wildly inconsistent and Norris Cole is not a difference-maker. That forced James to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the ball-handling and playmaking departments. In Cleveland, he'll have Kyrie Irving, one of the most dynamic young point guards in the game. Provided Irving stays healthy, he will be the best point guard James has ever had.
Search for Love: The Cavaliers have had exploratory talks about acquiring Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love, who played with James on Team USA. Sources say the Cavs have told the No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins they have to plans to trade him and are looking to package other players in the deal. Love is widely considered one of the 10 best players in the game.
LeBron’s Friends: For all the promising young talent the Cavaliers have, they still could use some more veteran help for James and Anderson Varejao, the only players with extensive NBA experience on the roster. According to several reports, the Cavs were negotiating with Mike Miller, a longtime friend of James who teamed up with him in Miami. Ray Allen, who is considering retirement or playing for one more season, is another candidate to join James, who loves to be surrounded by top-flight shooters.
A Big Need: James mentioned in his essay for Sports Illustrated he understood it may take some time for the Cavaliers to add the necessary pieces to become a true title contender. One of the biggest pieces they will need to add – now or in the future – is a big, rim-protecting center. Varejao is a nice defensive player, but hasn’t played a full season since 2008-09 and isn’t the shot-blocking force that could be needed, especially if Cleveland adds the defensively challenged Love to the frontcourt.
World Cup Visit
The four-time MVP is in Brazil to watch Sunday’s World Cup final.
Just a few hours after arriving in Brazil, LeBron James says the World Cup final is bigger than the NBA finals “in the sense that it’s the world and you have so many countries here.”
James landed in Rio on Saturday and met a few hundred fans in a large warehouse located on Guanabara Bay, where he watched some young Brazilians show off a few of their basketball skills.
James will be at Sunday’s final at the Maracana Stadium, but he declined to pick a winner. He says Germany is probably “a better overall team” but Argentina has Lionel Messi.