It's an example of the "unintended consequences" that commissioner Adam Silver has discussed of the salary-cap jump coming to the NBA ahead of the 2016-17 season.
James removed doubt about his intentions on Wednesday when he told ESPN's Dave McMenamin, "I love it here in Cleveland. I have no intentions of leaving. There are some technicalities to take care of I'll leave up to my agent. That's right from the horse's mouth."
Those technicalities include perhaps leaving $3 million on the table if he wants what is his now-customary one-year contract plus a player option with the Cavs, as he's signed the past two summers.
James is not expected to pick up his player option for next season, which is $24 million.
If James takes another one-year contract from the Cavs, he would make $27.5 million for next season. This is because the Cavs don't have salary-cap space and don't have James' full Bird rights, which limits the size of the raise he can get.
Another team with cap space -- and there are more than 20 of them -- could give James $30.8 million for next season.
The reason for this is complicated in contract language and math. Summarized, the salary cap is leaping so much -- $24 million -- that the increase in the max-contract parameters exceeds the 20 percent raise the Cavs can offer James.
As is the case with almost everything else involving NBA numbers this summer, this is a new situation.
The only way James could get $30.8 million next year from the Cavs is if he took a two-year deal under league rules. In this case, he could sign for two years and $64 million.
James has been planning to take one-year contracts until the summer of 2017, when an even higher salary cap and potential new collective bargaining agreement rules would enable him to sign one of the largest deals in professional sports history if he wanted to.
In the meantime, if James sticks to his plan of taking one-year deals, a veteran player such as Al Horford could pass him in salary. Horford is expected to get max contract offers from several teams.