With one deadline looming on his future in Cleveland, LeBron James has been in contact with the Cavaliers through his representatives.
Following the draft on Thursday night, Cavs general manager Koby Altman said he has had positive discussions with James’ group.
James has until Friday to tell the team if he will pick up his US$35.6 million option for next season or become a free agent.
“We continue to have good dialogue with his management team,” Altman said. “I think LeBron has more than earned the right to approach his contracts the way he does. He’s done that before, so this is nothing new for us.”
“That’s probably all I can say at this point regarding him, but we don’t take him for granted. We love him, this city loves him. He means the world to us and this franchise,” he added.
James has signed several short-term contracts since returning to the Cavs in 2014 after spending four seasons with Miami. After the Cavs won the championship in 2016, James signed a two-year contract with an option for this season.
The Cavs can offer him a five-year, US$209 million deal this time. James could possibly choose to sign a one-year deal again with a player option and go through the free-agency dance again next summer.
To look more appealing to James, the Cavs need to upgrade their roster and they took a significant step by selecting Alabama point guard Collin Sexton with the No. 8 overall pick.
Sexton averaged 19.2 points as a freshman and he addresses the club’s biggest need: a playmaker to fill the void left when the Cavs traded Kyrie Irving last summer.
Altman hopes Sexton’s arrival would make the Cavs more attractive to James.
The 19-year-old lacks professional experience, but Altman said that James dealt with that issue this season.
“He went through it this year a little bit with some of our young guys, especially in the playoffs,” Altman said. “What’s amazing — he talks about this all the time — the best teacher is experience, and our young guys got some really good experience this year. And while it wasn’t consistent throughout the playoffs, each guy had their moments.”
“So that experience is amazing for them and their confidence level as they approach next year,” he said. “And then Collin, we got to get there with experience as well, but like he [James] says, experience is the best teacher, and we gave those guys a great experience over 30 games and into the playoffs and into the Finals, and what does that mean for us moving forward, I think it’s all really positive.”
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