LeBron James and the leadership of the Cleveland Cavaliers are at odds over payroll spending.
James and team owner Dan Gilbert have different viewpoints on the issue, and it has been straining the relationship.
When James was considering returning to the Cavs in 2014, he pressed Gilbert on if he’d be willing to spend unconditionally on talent regardless of the luxury-tax cost, sources said. Over the course of several meetings with James and his representatives, Gilbert agreed, and James subsequently signed with the team.
Gilbert paid $82 million in salaries and $7 million in luxury tax in 2014-15. Last season, Gilbert paid $107 million in salaries and $54 million in luxury tax. Currently, the Cavs are committed to $127.6 million and $27 million in luxury taxes for this season. The team has spent more than any other NBA team over the three-year span.
James has been frustrated by how the Cavaliers have slowed new spending this season after winning their first title.
Earlier this week, James may have been referring to the team’s recent money decisions when he said: “I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization.”
James followed that up, saying in a series of tweets that he was not upset at management: “I not mad or upset at management ’cause [general manager David Griffin] and staff have done a great job…I just feel we still need to improve in order to repeat…if that’s what we wanna do.”
The comments angered Gilbert, sources said, because James appeared to imply it was an organizational choice whether to improve or not.
James has been particularly focused on the Cavaliers adding a point guard.
After signing one-year contracts in 2014 and 2015, James signed a two-year, $64 million contract last summer. He holds a player option for $36 million for the 2018-19 season.