LeBron James Free Agency: How Much Can He Make?

LeBron James opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that doesn’t mean he’s planning to leave the team. According to James himself, there’s no question that he’ll come back to his home team for the 2016-17 season. The question is, how much money will he make to sign up with the Cavs again? Reports indicate James could earn $27.5 million next season with a new contract instead of the $24 million he originally signed up for. Considering James’ 2015-16 performance with 1,920 points, 25.3 points per game an an NBA Finals Championship under his belt, a 15% raise in pay doesn’t seem like a bad deal for the Cavaliers. However, James could alternatively earn $30.8 million per year for a two year deal with the Cavs or over $40 million a year if he holds out for a five year contract in 2017.

lebron james net worth facts 3So far, Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies leads the 2016-17 salary field with $26,540,100 in guaranteed money. LeBron’s $27.5 million contract, if signed, would make him the #1 highest paid player in the league. For LeBron, that’s a worst-case scenario. The champion player could sign more than just a one year deal and wind up with a lot more money per year. The Cavaliers have a max per season salary of $30.8 million in 2016-17. Why aren’t they offering that to James right now? Rules. The team isn’t allowed to extend any player a max salary deal for a one-year contract. In order for James to get the full $30.8 million per year, he’d have to agree to at least two more years of play for the team. While one more year may not seem like a lot for an additional $3.3 million per year, James already has a net worth of $223 million. $6.6 million in extra money for two years may not exactly be a bag of shells for the superstar, but it’s not necessarily a no-brainer either. With the kind of money LeBron already has in his pocket, his choice probably comes down to one thing: love of the game. That said, there is some wiggle room here for another theory about how James will make his decision. He’s very, very committed to charity. So committed that he recently pledged to send every Akron youth who completes his I Promise program to the University of Akron for free. If every child in the program took him up on his offer, the bill would add up to tens of millions of dollars. This isn’t to say that James is strapped for cash, but that, based on his character, he could very well be asking himself, “How many more kids could I help if I signed up for two years with the Cavs?”

Related: LeBron James Net Worth


James probably won’t retire any time soon. He’s most likely going to sign up for at least two more years anyway. That being the case, why wouldn’t he sign a two year contract for $30.8 million a year instead of a one-year deal for $27.5 million? The answer is that he could make even more money in the future if he takes a bit of a cut in the near term. If James takes the lesser deal, the Cavs would become open to offering him the biggest NBA contract in history. Some reports put the value of this future deal at a probable $202 million over five years. That would net James just over $40 million a year. That would make him the highest paid NBA player of all time.