Miami, FL, United States (4E Sports) – Free-agent superstar LeBron James will ask for no less than the maximum salary from teams that will go for his services, according to sources.
When free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday, James will ask for the maximum salary which is projected at $22.2 million.
In 2010, James accepted a pay cut when he signed with the Miami Heat, taking less than the maximum salary to help make space for other free agents.
It will be a different scenario now as James is not as willing to sacrifice money to improve roster just like what he did in 2010. That burden may now fall to teammates such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Sources said James will let agent Rich Paul handle the opening stages of talks.
Currently, seven teams have the cap space to offer James a deal starting at $22.2 million next season: the Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic.
The Lakers and Suns have the space to add James and other high-level free agents. The Heat have the most cap space at $55 million but have Wade and Bosh to attend to as well.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said over the weekend that his team did not plan to make any max contract offers to free agents.
Without cap space, the only other way to get to James’ requisite number is to execute a sign-and-trade, which would require the Heat’s cooperation, or make additional moves to clear up cap space.
At least three teams currently without the needed cap space that are known to want to chase James are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. All three would need to execute significant shuffling and perhaps even offload star players to clear $22.2 million.