Should LeBron James and Rodney Hood both remain on the Cavaliers next season, the team will be looking at a payroll of more than $300 million, with luxury taxes accounting for about half that sum, according to ESPN.com.
After a flurry of moves ahead of last week's trade deadline added about $10 million in salary and luxury taxes to their books, the Cavs' payroll this season is about $190 million, second highest in NBA history behind the Nets’ $193 million payroll in 2013-14.
James may decide to stay in Cleveland this summer either by exercising the one-year, $35.6 million player option on his contract or by signing a new max deal. Hood’s new contract figures to be worth about $12 million, ESPN notes.
Also, the Cavs hold the rights to the Nets’ first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The No. 7 pick, where Brooklyn currently sits, would cost about $4 million; should the Cavs move into the top three, they’d be bringing aboard a player at $6 million to $7 million annually.
While some league executives believe Cleveland’s trade-deadline moves – by which they acquired Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. – were done in preparation for James' exit, the Cavs insist that’s not the case. Owner Dan Gilbert’s desire to win titles trumps what it would cost him, sources within the organization have told ESPN.
Gilbert certainly hasn’t been shy about spending above luxury tax thresholds. His team has paid a combined $86 million in luxury taxes over the previous three seasons, a total that will jump to $140 million over the four years LeBron’s been back in town.