LeBron James will re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers for one year and $23 million, plus a player option for $24 million for a second year, reports ESPN's Brian Windhorst. The move ends James' latest foray into free agency in unsurprising fashion as the four-time MVP returns to the Cavaliers after leading them to the NBA Finals earlier this year.
James hit free agency on July 1 after opting out of the final year of the two-year contract he signed with the Cavaliers last summer, but was never expected to leave Cleveland. Now we know he'll be back to continue his quest to bring a championship to the city on a new short-term contract. He is widely expected to opt out next summer and sign another short-term deal with Cleveland so he can benefit from the salary-cap explosion.
The only thing holding back James from signing his extension earlier was his interest in seeing how the rest of the Cavaliers' offseason played out. Once the team agreed to new deals with free agents Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert and got on track on the negotiations to bring back Tristan Thompson, it became just a matter of time before LeBron joined them. Cleveland also agreed to a new deal with Mo Williams, who flourished playing alongside James during their first stints with the team.
The Cavaliers will again lean on James, Love and Kyrie Irving to shoulder the load next season, with the primary hope being that the team can stay healthy enough to make a title run. Injuries eventually ended the seasons of Irving and several other key players in 2015, so getting back the same LeBron-led core should make Cleveland one of the top contenders next season.
LeBron didn't put up his best numbers in 2014-15, at least in the regular season, but still showed he's at the top of his game. In the playoffs, he averaged 30 points, 11 rebounds and nearly nine assists per game, almost individually carrying the Cavaliers to a championship despite an injury-decimated roster.
LeBron's free agency was never expected to be the huge, landscape-changing deal that it's been in the past, and by re-signing with the Cavs, he's back where most expected him.
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