Cavs.com’s Exclusive Interview with LeBron James,<br> Agent Leon Rose, and Cavs’ GM Danny Ferry
The agreement between the Cavaliers and LeBron guarantees another four more years for LeBron in Cleveland. Plus, LeBron will also get an additional option year for the 2010-2011 season. The Cavaliers and LeBron will have the right to extend his new contract four more additional years (on top of the current contract extension) starting in the summer of 2009.
Cavs.com beat writer, Joe Gabriele, had some questions after the free agent moratorium expired at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning. And LeBron James, his agent, Leon Rose, and Cavaliers’ GM, Danny Ferry, had the
I appreciate the support and dedication the Cavaliers and Dan Gilbert have shown towards building a championship organization and the loyalty they have shown with this contract. It has also been extremely gratifying to give back to my community and I look forward to continuing to do so on and off the basketball court.
Again, I thank the Cavalier fans for their support and enthusiasm and I look forward to getting to the task at bringing home a championship!
Cavs.com: Are you glad to have all this behind you?
LeBron James: I knew all along -- and I had always said -- that I wanted to stay here in Cleveland, so it's a terrific day for me and my family to actually make it official. Now I can continue to concentrate on basketball and helping bring a championship to Cleveland.
Cavs.com: What makes you most excited about staying here in Cleveland?
James: Well, like I've said, it's very special to be near so many friends and family. I think we are really building a championship-quality team and organization and our run this year in the playoffs makes me very anxious to get back at it next year. And with a season under our belts with Coach Brown and a guy like Larry back at full health, it will be exciting. It puts a big smile on my face.
Cavs.com: Why this structure vs. the five-year contract?
James: If I didn’t believe in this team and this organization and the direction that we're headed, I wouldn't have signed the extension. I'm extremely happy here and excited to win a championship here. We did extensive research and with the way the C.B.A. (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is set up, it makes the most business sense to sign this extension and then look at another new contract in four years.
James: We have a lot of great things to accomplish between now and then. As I said, if I didn’t believe in this team and organization, I wouldn’t have signed this extension. If we continue to build a winning team and I continue to perform at the highest level, then we both will come out of this as winners and the fans will win as well. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the coming years. And I really believe everyone is dedicated to bringing a championship here and we’ll continue to have a long, fun successful partnership.
Cavs.com: What could the Cavs have done to get you to sign a max deal?
James: They've done everything first class and the right way. We have a long -- and I think successful -- partnership ahead. It was just in my best interest and my family’s best interest to look to re-sign a new contract at a time that will help maximize our opportunities with the way the C.B.A. is set up.
Leon Rose: Yes, and that's because LeBron looked at this very deeply and understood the complexity of what the situation was. In the end, this works out very well for him and puts him in a position to accomplish all of his goals, both on the court and off. He wanted this very much and repeatedly said throughout the season that he felt good about being a Cavalier and wants to stay here.
Cavs.com: Did you sense that this extension was perceived to be the most significant of the summer season in the NBA?
Rose: Well, that's natural for any deal involving LeBron. At the end of the day though, it just comes down to what's best for LeBron. I can't get distracted by anything other than keeping focus on what puts LeBron in the best position possible.
Cavs.com: Was it a difficult process to get to the end result?
Rose: LeBron makes it easy, because he really has a great understanding of how this all works and is able to think about the big picture, so to speak. I thought the Cavaliers also made the process easy. They really look at their relationship with LeBron as a partnership and understand that helping LeBron maximize his opportunities only helps them as well. So you could say it worked well for everyone.
Cavs.com: Why did you and LeBron take some time before making statements saying that you intended to sign an extension?
Rose: Both the Cavaliers and LeBron felt there was no need to rush things. We have both said that all along, largely because we felt confident that things would work out well. We both really wanted to think this through though, and really give it the kind of focus it deserved. I think that's evident by the positive result we now have.
Cavs.com: When do you start preparing for the next extension?
Rose: We always try to prepare for the future with what we do now. I think the proper foundation is in place for LeBron now and, again, would expect to be in a good position for LeBron to maximize his future opportunities. I know he's focused on basketball now and wants to continue working toward a Cavaliers championship.
Let me also correct the misinformation and confusion that has been out there for the last several weeks. I can now publicly comment on the situation, as the moratorium has passed. As an organization, we did extensive due diligence on our long-term vision of this team, regarding our options and LeBron’s options and how LeBron could maximize his value while wearing a Cavaliers' uniform. LeBron’s representatives brought us the current contract and we both clearly understand that this contract will help LeBron take advantage of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. We understand that this best allows him to capitalize on his earning power while in Cleveland over the length of his career.
When you have a player, and person, like LeBron, it makes it very easy to reward him for his commitment, loyalty, work ethic, and ability. Every person in this organization is dedicated to bringing a championship to the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now we need to continue to bring in the players to complement LeBron in our quest for an NBA title.
Cavs.com: Danny, are you relieved that LeBron is signing an extension and you can move forward now?
Danny Ferry: Of course, there's a sense of relief. A sense of excitement and accomplishment as well, because we think we’ve made progress. Championships are the goal, though. We're confident about getting there, but understand there is still work to do. Obviously, LeBron deciding to stay in a Cavs' uniform for years to come is a huge part of that process, and even that might be an understatement.
Cavs.com: Did you offer LeBron a "max" contract?
Ferry: Certainly we offered him that contract but with the Collective Bargaining Agreement set up as it is, we understand why he chose the extension that he did. This allows LeBron to maximize his value while wearing a Cavaliers' uniform. LeBron is an intelligent young man. He did his due diligence and is excited about continuing to play with the Cavaliers and from our perspective his presence is beyond measure. If we continue to focus on bringing a championship to this city and LeBron continues to flourish as he has, then we're confident we will continue to have a long and prosperous and successful relationship even beyond the terms of this contract.
Ferry: As I said previously, we did extensive research heading into this process and understood what our best options were to keep LeBron in a Cavaliers uniform while helping him capitalize on his financial opportunities. There is a mutual trust in putting together a commitment such as this and we are very excited about having LeBron in a Cavaliers' uniform for years to come and rewarding him appropriately.
Cavs.com: Are you concerned that you might not have him in five years?
Ferry: I think winning is what matters most. Along with having a "championship-culture" every day in everything we do. Based on the direction we're headed, we're confident we'll still be in a great position when that time comes. Other than that, let's focus on the current contract right now that will have him in a Cavaliers' uniform for years to come. We'll have plenty of time to discuss the future when we get there.
Cavs.com: Does this impact your ability to sign free agents?
Ferry: Yes, in a positive way because any prospective free agents know we are trying to build a core group around LeBron for the next several years. His signing shows his confidence in winning championships here in Cleveland. That certainly shows our current guys and the entire league that we all believe Cleveland is a place that will get it done.
Cavs.com: What does all of this mean for the franchise?
Ferry: It allows us to move forward with the best player in the game on our side. That helps with every facet of what we do, both on the court and off. I think it means just as much for the community and our fans especially. This should be a tremendous moment of pride for our entire region and state considering the positive impact LeBron has had thus far and will continue to have. Few things or people in life have the ability to raise the spirit of a community like LeBron does here. It is very rare and we are very fortunate to experience it.
Cavs.com: How has Dan Gilbert factored into all of this?
Ferry: Dan has incredible passion for winning championships and, I mentioned this above, building the championship-culture that demonstrates the commitment to that. All of our players, and everyone in the organization, realize this. His support has been off the charts and the investments he and our ownership group continue to make in our franchise make a huge difference in placing all of us in a position to succeed.