Because it's never simple for the Cleveland sports fan, LeBron isn't going to follow the crowd and sign the max contract extension. LeBron's contract will be a bit different. The deal he signs will be for 4 years and $60 million (instead of 5 years and $80 million). Confused? Me too.
The theory goes that the NBA's current Collective Bargining Agreement ends in 2011 and if LeBron signed the average, 5 year max deal, it expire in 2012. By signing a deal that ends when the CBA does, LeBron is poised to take advantage of the new CBA rules, which more likely leads to a higher salary.
Does this mean LeBron is going to leave? I (and others) don't think so. The NBA makes it so a player's current team has the best chance (re: can offer the most money) to re-sign him. This in fact may make LeBron even less likely to leave. LeBron's next deal may be in the $150 million range and while the Cavs will be able to go over the cap to keep him because of the Larry Bird rules, any other team that wants to sign him is going to need mucho, mucho cap space (cause the Cavs sure as hell aren't going to agree to a sign and trade).
So what does this mean? Mostly nothing, but ESPN will probably say it means LeBron wants to leave early or some shit (though their article says he may be talking Wade and Melo into signing similar deals).
And if a deal that is a year shorter forces the Cavs to keep trying to improve (to satisfy James) maybe that's a good thing. They seem a little too content after last season for my taste. Don't get me wrong, the team played well and the managment team did a good job, but the team was flawed. Yea they were a game away from the conference finals, but the team was really flawed. I was kinda hoping that the Cavs wouldn't start the season with the only new additions being draft picks and the only major departure being Flip Murray. I was hoping for a little more tweaking... So if this deal lights a fire under the Cavs collective ass, so be it.
I don't believe this news is bad.