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LeBron James to opt out of current deal, negotiate following July 1 free agency period

As anticipated, LeBron James will opt out of his current contract and renegotiate following the July 1 start of the NBA's free agency period.

As much of an annual NBA event as the Draft or Training Camp, LeBron James will reportedly opt out of his current contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and renegotiate a new deal following the start of the NBA's free agency period. James had a June 29 deadline to decline next season's player option which was set to pay him roughly $24 million.

First reported by ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, here's more from Cleveland.com's Chris Haynes:

The 31-year-old will either re-sign with the NBA Champions for another one-year term or accept a multi-year deal once the free-agency frenzy begins on July 1...

Paul says there isn't a decision yet and added there is no timetable for when James will ink his deal. James is turning down a $24 million salary for a pay raise that will take him closer to $30 million with the salary cap hike of $70 million to $94 million. 

James silenced all rumors of a potential departure from Cleveland following the first championship in franchise history, announcing he would be defending the title for the 2016-17 season. In his 13 seasons in the league, he's averaged 27.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists while winning three championships and four league MVP awards. He was unanimously voted MVP of the 2016 NBA Finals after averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists with an effective field goal percentage of 53.3 and one gigantic block in the deciding game's waning minutes.

Much like last season where James sat on the sidelines while the Cavaliers negotiated with Tristan Thompson, who is also represented by agent Rich Paul, he could conceivably do the same this season regarding J.R. Smith (also represented by Paul). If James takes another one-year contract from the Cavs, he would make $27.5 million for next season, roughly $3 million less than he could receive in the open market as the Cavs do not own his full Bird rights, thus limiting the size of the raise he can receive. Adding to the mix is the impending expiration of the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement following the 2016-17 season, one which will likely feature the NBPA aiming to increase the amount that can be earned by the game's top players.


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