The person also said this is strictly a business decision. James still is intent on finishing his career with the Cavaliers, as he said in his Sports Illustrated essay about the decision. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.
Rich Paul of Klutch Sports is James' agent, and Mark Termini leads contract negotiations for the Klutch.
James could have taken a four-year contract worth more than $88 million from the Cavs. But he now will be able to negotiate a better contract in two years and also has the choice to opt out after one season to renegotiate next summer. Player options only can come before the final season of a contract, another reason for the two-year deal.
The TV component is important and valuable. The NBA and players share basketball-related income (BRI) at a near 50-50 split, and TV revenue is included in BRI. The higher the BRI, the more money for players.
Next season, James will make $21,573,398. But if next offseason's max opening salary is projected higher than what James will bring in, he could opt out and take the bigger deal for one year while still being a free agent for the 2016 offseason and new TV deal.
Again, this is a business decision and not an opportunity for James to test free agency again. Consider James has never had a full max salary — he didn't get one with Miami — but now is positioning himself to take advantage financially for the rest of his career.
At some point, he likely will sign a long-term max contract with Cleveland. But for now, he is stretching his value with a unique contract situation.
Also don't be surprised if James negotiates and re-negotiates max deals that are shorter in length for the next few seasons. The players and owners have the option to terminate the current CBA after the 2016-17 season, which could lead to another change in maximum contracts. There is another component to James' strategy, too. He is the face of the NBA right now, and he is sending a message to other players: Take advantage of the financial position.
Sure, James is doing what's best for him, but he is also encouraging other players to do the same.