by Lang Whitaker

Has he? Hasn’t he? Nobody seems to know for sure. After hearing Saturday morning that LeBron James and the Cavs had agreed to a max contract extension, word shook loose late last night — well, “shook loose” isn’t a strong enough term; Stephen A. Smith actually screamed the news on SportsCenter — that the deal LeBron agreed to sign wasn’t a standard extension but a four-year deal worth $60 million with an opt-out clause after three years, which could make him a free agent in 2011, when the current collective bargaining agreement will expire. This means Bron could collect a huge payday then. (Incidentally, when are the Nets supposed to move to Brooklyn? Right now it looks like 2011. Just throwing that out there…)

The thing is, the ESPN report appears to be wrong. The Collective Bargaining agreement runs out in 2012, not 2011; also, Bron and the Cavs haven’t finalized anything yet — that’s supposed to go down today or tomorrow.
Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst does a great job explaining all of this on his blog, and he points out that Screamin’ A. is in Cleveland right now at a “seminar” with LeBron and his representatives — wow, wonder how Stephen A. got the scoop on this one? (Also incidentally, if LeBron is King James, let’s make Stephen A. Smith the town crier.)

However this all works out, it sounds like LeBron wants to remain in Cleveland, at least in the short term. But he also doesn’t want to be tied (at least long term) to a team that hasn’t made a single free agency move this summer and is definitely getting outpaced by every team in its division right now as far as improving their roster.

The one thing in all of this that I wouldn’t like is the way the Cavs seem to be getting pushed around by LeBron and his peoples. Why don’t the Cavs say, Look, we know you’re not sure about us, but we’re going to do everything we can to make it better. At the same time, we believe you’ll do your best to make yourself and the team better. So, we’re putting this maximum deal on the table. You can sign it or not sign it, but we need you to at least show a modicum of trust in us, just like we’re trusting you. If you want to leave in 2011, we’ll get you out of here. For now, though, just do the right thing.

(Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer is still sleeping.)