LeBron has made his decision.
“I’m ready to accept the challenge,” NBA star LeBron James told Sports Illustrated on Friday. “I’m coming home.”
With that, the four-time MVP announced his blockbuster return to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. For sure, he’ll be making a lot of money.
James, who announced his decision to become a free agent from the Miami Heat at the end of June, is expected to earn $94.8 million for a four-year contract in Cleveland. That’s the highest possible figure he can make for his time there, according to the Washington Post.
But a trip back home (he played his first seven years there) also means economic gain for Ohio’s NBA franchise. It came at a big cost to the team, of course.
In order to make the deal financially possible, the Cavaliers had to make some trades. The team traded Sergey Karasev and Jarrett Jack to the Brooklyn Nets. Additionally, Tyler Zeller and a future first-round pick were handed over to the Boston Celtics.
Sports Illustrated also reported on Wednesday that the Cavs are pursuing Kevin Love to join the team, a deal sweetened further by James’ announcement.
Overall, James earned about $64 million in salary from the Heat, which he helped lead to four consecutive NBA Finals, including titles in 2012 and 2013. In endorsements and investments, he’s believed to have earned $38 million more.
More recently, James signed a deal with the consulting firm Teneo, along with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
For the Cavs, ticket sales are expected to soar along with in-arena advertising. Cleveland tourism may also get a lift. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert appears overjoyed with the addition, taking to Twitter to express himself.
James didn’t diss the Heat in his announcement, and instead talked about his good times there. “I will always think of Miami as my second home,” James said. “Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”
In contrast to the euphoria from the Cavs, Heat owner Micky Arison made his disappointment clear. “I am shocked & disappointed in today’s news,” he wrote on Twitter. “However, I will never forget what Lebron brought us for 4 years. Thanks for memories @KingJames.”
“I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland,” James told Sports Illustrated. “The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”