LeBron James attends a promotional event in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. He is in Brazil for the World Cup final. (Leo Correa / Associated Press)
Cleveland — First, the Cavaliers got LeBron James’ word. Then they got his signature.
James signed a two-year, $42.1 million contract with the Cavs on Saturday, a day after he announced he was returning to play in Cleveland and try to end the city’s 50-year championship drought.
The deal provides flexibility for the NBA’s biggest star with the league’s maximum salary expected to rise in the future.
A person familiar with the negotiations said James’ contract includes an option for the four-time league MVP to become a free agent next summer. However, it is strictly “a business deal,” according to the person who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team is not providing any details about the agreement.
By only signing for two years, James can get another contract with the Cavs before the 2016-17 season, when a new television deal is expected to push the maximum salary higher. The max contract for next season is $20.7 million. Until this deal, James had never been the highest paid player on his team in 11 seasons as a pro.
The Cavs did not provide any terms of the contract in a release, citing league policy.
James announced he was returning to the Cavaliers on Friday, picking Cleveland over Miami and reversing the decision he made four years ago to sign as a free agent with the Heat.
In an essay in Sports Illustrated, James indicated he will finish his career in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers are confident the Akron, Ohio, native is committed to them long-term.
“We could not be happier to welcome LeBron James home,” Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said.
Jazz match Hayward offer
The Jazz on Saturday matched Charlotte’s four-year, $63 million offer for the restricted free agent.
The Jazz had until late Sunday to match the Hornets’ maximum offer sheet for the 6-foot-8 small forward.
Hayward averaged career highs of 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season while leading the Jazz in scoring and minutes. He was the first Jazz player to average 16 points, five rebounds and five assists since Pete Maravich.
Hornets get Williams
After losing out on Gordon Hayward, the Hornets landed one of his former teammates with the Jazz.
The Hornets agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract with free-agent forward Marvin Williams, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The 6-foot-9, 237-pound Williams has played nine seasons in the NBA with the Jazz and Hawks. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 66 games for Utah last season, including 50 starts.
Pau Gasol to Bulls
The Bulls recovered quickly after losing out on Carmelo Anthony in free agency, landing Lakers big man Pau Gasol to bolster the team’s offense.
Gasol announced on his verified Twitter account on Saturday evening that he reached agreement with the Bulls.
The Spaniard is one of the NBA’s most offensively gifted and versatile big men, and he has long been one of Kobe Bryant’s favorite teammates with the Lakers.