$134m deal to make James highest-paid NBA star

LOS ANGELES • LeBron James has agreed to a three-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which when signed will make him the highest-paid player in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

"I just want to let you all know I'm re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, my hometown team," he announced on his multimedia website Uninterrupted. "I can't be more excited with this opportunity once again, to defend our crown, defend our title... just get the band back together."

James, a three-time NBA champion, did not release details of the contract but US sports broadcaster ESPN reported that it was worth US$100 million (S$134.6 million) and would pay him US$31 million in the first year and US$33 million in the second, making him the league's highest-paid player for the first time in his career.

Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies is second on US$26.5 million for next season.

James has signed a pair of one-year deals with the Cavaliers over the past few years. He chose to go with a longer-term deal this time because of the Cavs' success.

"We all know last year (was) magical, inspiring, all the words you can come up with. It was an unbelievable season," said Cleveland's all-time leading scorer.

"I just can't wait to get the group back together, the team, the franchise. And the fans... without you guys, without your passion and commitment, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did this past season. I'm ecstatic."

Nothing is official as the three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player is not expected to sign the new deal until next week, when he returns to Cleveland for a charity event, ESPN said.

James also said he hopes the team can convince free agent guard J.R. Smith to return next season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline '$134m deal to make James highest-paid NBA star'. Print Edition | Subscribe