LeBron James is taking a mysteriously long time to re-sign with the Cavaliers, and nobody is sure why

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LeBron James re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers felt like a foregone conclusion heading into the offseason.

James, after all, had finally delivered the Cavaliers their first championship, seemed happy in Cleveland, and was just one year off from finally being able to sign a monster, long-term deal with the Cavs.

Yet, almost a month since the NBA Finals concluded and nearly three weeks into free agency, James still hasn't signed.

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It's not a particularly dramatic free agency — there's no indication that he's considering other teams, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that James told the Cavs he will re-sign with them. During the Cavs' championship parade, James actually told reporters he had no plans to leave Cleveland.

So, why such a long wait? The NBA world isn't totally sure.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com wrote on the situation, "It's unclear why James is taking such a long time this summer."

Windhorst said on ESPN when asked about the delay, "This may sound like a dumb answer, but I don't really know."

The hold-up could come from James weighing a few options, as both Windhorst and Vardon noted. First, there's the length of the contract. In the past two years, James has signed two-year deals, then opted out after the first year to sign another short deal. Under a rising salary cap, this was a move to increase his yearly salary and to maintain flexibility and put pressure on the Cavs.

It was also a long-term ploy to earn more money down the road. After three years, the Cavs would have James' full Bird Rights, meaning they could re-sign him the the biggest contract possible — a five-year deal worth 35% of the salary cap, with 7.5% yearly raises. It was believed that James would eventually be able to sign a five-year, $200 million deal.

Yet as USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reported prior to free agency, a little-known rule in the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement could prevent James from signing a full, five-year max contract next summer. In light of this news, James may be considering whether to sign a long-term deal now or continue to sign short deals. It's a decision he hasn't had to consider in the past.

And as Vardon points out, the uncertainty of the NBA's CBA could be a factor. Both the NBA and the players union can opt out of the CBA this December, setting up an unknown future. Many in the NBA world feel it could, even briefly, lead to a lockout as the two sides re-negotiate a new labor deal. James could be weighing whether to lock up a long-term deal now, or go into next summer as a free agent, when the salary cap rises to an expected $102 million and when the next bargaining agreement could potentially earn him even more money.

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However, Windhorst also threw out another possibility for James continuing on his one-year contract path.

"Just for the sake of putting it in the back of your mind," Windhorst said, "both Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, two guys he would love to play with at some point, are also scheduled to be free agents next summer." James has explicitly said he would love to team up with Paul, Wade, and Carmelo Anthony one day.

Windhorst initially reported that James has been traveling with his family this summer, and when he returns, will sit down with his agent and the Cavs to hammer out a deal. While he will be back in Cleveland next season, it's unknown when James will make it official and if he will commit to the team long-term yet.


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June 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) moves the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) in the second half in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) grabs a rebound against Golden State Warriors forward Anderson Varejao (18) and guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
June 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) controls the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the second half in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
June 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) controls the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) in the second half in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Shaun Livingston #34 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball againt LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Festus Ezeli #31 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures during the second half against the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 and Dahntay Jones #30 of the Cleveland Cavaliers hug after winning the NBA Championship against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Finals Game Seven on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Head Coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is pumped up after winning the game against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Finals Game Seven on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Kevin Love #0 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers share a moment against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Finals Game Seven on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Shaun Livingston #34 of the Golden State Warriors goes up for the layup against the Cleveland Cavaliers gduring the 2016 NBA Finals Game Seven on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 and Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 and Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (R) shoots the ball ahead of Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson during the third quarter in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. Powered by an amazing effort from LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers completed the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, dethroning defending champion Golden State 93-89 to capture their first NBA title. The Cavaliers won the best-of-seven series 4-3 to claim the first league crown in their 46-season history and deliver the first major sports champion to Cleveland since the 1964 NFL Browns, ending the longest such title drought for any American city. / AFP / Beck Diefenbach (Photo credit should read BECK DIEFENBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors during the second half in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against Richard Jefferson #24 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the second half in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors speaks to members of the media after being defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers kisses his daughter Zhuri during a press conference after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 to win the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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