With all of the speculation around Lebron returning to Cleveland in 2014, I’d like to propose the plausibility that he stays put in Miami. For those who don’t know, the reason Lebron may leave Miami is because in 2014 Miami will be due for a major salary cap penalty as the result of the last collective bargaining agreement. It will be next to impossible for the Miami Heat to stay together and compete for championships the way the team is currently constructed.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Lebron follows in the footsteps of Tom Brady and signs with the Heat for drastically less than what he is worth. Yesterday, Tom Brady did so for the second time in his career. The first was in 2005. Under Brady’s new deal he is set to make close to half the salary of his elite QB counterparts Breeze and Manning. See http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/8988720/tom-brady-new-england-patriots-agree-3-year-27-million-extension-according-source.
You could argue that Lebron is already in Brady territory, given that he ranks 10th in the NBA for highest salary this season, and makes the exact same salary as teammates Bosh and Wade. Aside from winning one championship, not much has changed since his decision to take his talents to South Beach. His legacy will still be tied to how many championships he can win and there is little better way to chase rings than establishing a culture of sacrifice.
I suppose it is possible that he could chase the payday he deserves. It would not even be overtly selfish for him to pursue a max deal when considering that he is the tide that will raise all other boats. Meaning, if Lebron takes less, that would not help other superstars efforts to bargain for max contracts. Personally, I think Lebron accepting less would have a trivial effect on other superstars contracts, but it’s worth noting that Lebron has taken a significantly larger and more vocal role in players-association-league issues. That, and he has also spoken publicly about how underpaid he is in terms of his ability to generate revenue for the league. That would be true even if he was under a max deal.
Furthermore,I wouldn’t be surprised if the financial benefit of winning championships for a player of Lebron’s caliber drastically outweighs any deal he could get under the current CBA. This begs the question, will Miami be able to give Lebron the best shot at winning championships even if he were to resign for less money? And lastly, will playing for less money have any effect on his legacy?