An opt-out clause in the summer of 2014 and the mega luxury tax increases on the horizon, might be factors in bringing LeBron James back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rich Paul, James’ agent, has been telling people that he has thought about bring James back to Cleveland, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports published Thursday. The report also suggests Memphis' trade of Rudy Gay to avoid the luxury tax could signal the end of triple-superstar clubs, with teams shipping out top tier players to avoid paying.
Paul, along with Maverick Carter, have been lifelong friends with James, and Yahoo! stipulates both knows how huge the credit might be for James returning to Cleveland.
Both are also aware of the looming salary cap restrictions that will start next season. Miami could pay upwards of $34 million next season alone, with most of its contracts tied up in James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. All three hold opt-out clauses after next year, and should the Heat capture another title, the demand for a pay increase may not be out of the question.
However whether or not Miami, or any other market, could afford or even want to pay the impending tax bill remains to be seen.
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Cleveland serves as an excellent landing spot for James’ post-Miami years. Point guard Kyrie Irving was just named an All-Star for the first time, and has emerged as not only the future of Cleveland’s success, but perhaps the heir apparent to the coveted “Best Point Guard Alive” moniker.
The Cavs also technically have zero dollars committed beyond next season, holding mainly team options. Irving, along with forward Tristan Thompson, and guard Dion Waiters should have their options picked up, but that leaves Cleveland general manager Chris Grant an immense amount of cap space to build a contender.
Not to mention James admitting his departure from Cleveland left a bad after taste, for it’s perceived snubbing of the city that helped make him a global superstar.
The one main obstacle to James’ return might be Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, whose tirade when James left in 2010 proved ill advised.
Gilbert decreed Cleveland would win a championship before Miami ever would, and clearly he was wrong and speaking from a place of anger rather than logic.
Supposing James and Gilbert made nice, a return to Cleveland, with their excessive salary cap room, fervid fan base itching for a title, and James seeking catharsis, could very well be in the cards.