LeBron James is arguably having the best season of his 15-year professional career, leading the Cavaliers to a 22-8 record through 30 games while missing several key pieces due to injury. His production this late in his career has been head-scratching for some — James turns 33 this month — and is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in before in the NBA.
Many fans believe there’s a prime age for players. For example, a player usually reaches his high-point at age 29, then the player’s career supposedly dips off as he hits the wrong side of 30. That popular belief is being tested this season by James, who’s proving that, even three years past the wrong side of the magic number 30, is still capable of putting up career numbers on a nightly basis.
For James, becoming the first player to put an end to that theory so future players can benefit is something that’s on the four-time MVP’s mind.
Following from Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
James admitted to reporters in his session after shootaround Saturday that it would “mean a lot” to win another (MVP), agreeing that “this is one of the best years I’ve had as far as how I feel and I want to continue that.”
James also said, essentially, that he was playing for a contract — his next contract and for the next, unnamed great player who is entering the twilight of his career.
James can be a free agent at the end of this season. No team could pay James more than the Cavs. Based on current salary-cap projections, he could command a five-year deal worth at least $207 million from Cleveland.
Keep that in mind as you consider his answer.
“I want to kind of try to break the mold just for the next generation, just take the narrative out of, ‘You’re past your prime when you hit 31,’ or ‘You’re past your prime in your 12th year in the league,’ or whatever the case may be,” James said. “Hopefully I can break the mold so when the next guy comes, he can still get $200 or $300 million and be 33 years old. I’m serious.”
James has averaged 28.1 points, his highest mark in nearly 10 years, and 8.4 rebounds in 30 games this season. He’s also averaged a career-best 9.1 assists per contest and is shooting 58 percent from the floor, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts from 3-point range — both of which are career-highs.
James will draw league-wise interest once he hits free agency on July 1, with the Cavaliers, Lakers and Knicks expected to be three clubs he’ll have interest in once the time comes.