Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman senses positive momentum as Cleveland prepares to pitch LeBron James on sticking around.
Altman entered the NBA draft Thursday without knowledge of James’ intentions in free agency. James has until midnight on June 29 to exercise the 2018-19 season option in his contract worth $35.6 million or opt out to become a free agent.
“I think LeBron has more than earned the right to approach his contracts the way he does,” Altman said Thursday night in an interview with ESPN. “He’s done that before, so this is nothing new for us. We want to respect his space during this process, and I continue to have really good dialogue with his management team as he goes through that process. That’s probably all I can say at this point regarding him, but we don’t take him for granted.
“We love him, this city loves him. He means the world to us and this franchise.”
Altman described talks between the Cavaliers and James’ representatives as “good dialogue.”
The Cavaliers believe drafting point guard Collin Sexton with the No. 8 pick on Thursday was a signal to James that they’re still building around him. Altman also said owner Dan Gilbert is set to “spare no expense” building a championship team after the Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
“I think the pick, along with our youth and our momentum as a franchise, for LeBron and for everybody, I think there’s a real energy here,” Altman said. “And I think the talent level of Collin I’m almost sure LeBron recognizes.”
Altman already knows if James commits to Cleveland, he’s also going to be all-in. He played in all 104 games, playoffs included, last season and averaged 34.0 points in the playoffs.
“LeBron James played 82 games this season,” Altman said. “He played every game into the postseason. It was remarkable, historical. He gave his heart and soul, die-hard energy, commitment to this team, to this franchise, to the city, to Northeast Ohio. And I like I said, it was an historical year and probably one of the best postseason runs of all time and very, very fortunate to have him here, and what he gave to this franchise this year was nothing short of remarkable.”
—Field Level Media