WESTFIELD — Jamario Moon isn’t the only small forward Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry has talked contract with in recent days.
Ferry said Monday he had spoken to Leon Rose, the agent for superstar LeBron James, but refused to confirm the team had offered the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder a maximum contract extension.
“We reached out to Leon Rose and talked to them,” the GM said. “Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment.”
The Miami Heat, Moon’s previous team, immediately announced it had offered a contract extension to superstar Dwyane Wade on July 18, the earliest teams could offer such deals. Already, that has led to some public bickering between Wade and Heat officials.
The Cavaliers have always been very guarded when it comes to publicly discussing contract matters. It doesn’t take a genius to decipher they offered James the maximum dollars for the maximum number of years at the earliest possible moment, but Ferry probably wants to stay mum so as not to put all the onus on the 24-year-old to accept the deal.
Regardless, James will earn $15.78 million next season. If he picks up his player option for 2010-11, which almost no one around the league expects him to do, he would earn $17.14 million that season.
The league MVP also is unlikely to sign the extension the Cavaliers have offered — $79.5 million over four years, counting his player option in 2010-11 — at any point this season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent in July 2010.
Even then, the Cavaliers would be able to offer James a six-year contract for about $125 million, while the most any other team could offer would be five years for about $95 million. The exact figures could fluctuate a bit depending upon the league’s salary cap.
The earliest James is likely to make any public comment to the local media about his contract status — or Cleveland’s offseason acquisitions of Moon, Anthony Parker and Shaquille O’Neal — is at his annual bike-a-thon in Akron on Aug. 22.
Moon, his projected backup, was introduced to the media Monday at Westfield Group Country Club, where the annual Cavaliers Youth Fund Golf Outing was held.
“Playing with LeBron is going to make my job a whole lot easier than playing against him,” said the 6-foot-8, 200-pounder, who signed what sources now say is a two-year, $6 million deal.
The 29-year-old product of Meridian Community College in Mississippi didn’t break into the NBA until 2007, but has been a solid role player over the past two seasons.
Long and athletic, Moon averaged 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while splitting time with Toronto and Miami last season. After traveling the globe in his quest to break into the league, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Raptors as a rookie.
“It made me a better man to make all those different stops in all those different cities playing for I don’t know how many coaches,” Moon said. “It made me a better person.”
In Cleveland, Moon’s main job will be to back up James, but the two could also play together when James moves to power forward.
“The last two years have been a dream come true for me,” Moon said. “I’m hoping to come to Cleveland and put an exclamation point on the last two years.”
While Ferry praised Moon’s defensive ability – “He’ll bring another guy to throw at the Carmelo Anthonys (of the league),” he said – coach Mike Brown said the Cavaliers’ latest acquisition is not a one-dimensional player.
“I’m excited about Jamario on both ends of the floor,” Brown said. “Offensively, he’s better than people give him credit for. People will be pleasantly surprised by him.”
The Cavaliers have had talks with free agent power forward Leon Powe, who won’t be able to play until at least January after undergoing ACL and microfracture surgery on his knee, but they have not offered him a contract. The most the team can offer in the first year is the biannual exception of $2 million.
l Cleveland now has 13 players under contract, with second-round pick Danny Green expected to become the 14th. However, the deals of Tarence Kinsey, Darnell Jackson and Jawad Williams are not guaranteed, so more roster moves are still a possibility.
Teams are allowed to carry a maximum of 15 players, so there’s a chance the Cavaliers could re-sign Wally Szczerbiak and/or Joe Smith to deals for the veteran’s minimum.
“We’re always going to try to find ways to get better,” Ferry said. “We’ll explore trades and free agency.”
l When asked about O’Neal’s reality show, “Shaq Vs.,” which debuts on ABC on Aug. 18, Ferry said he was eager to watch the 7-1, 325-pounder swim against Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.
“I’m looking forward to seeing if he’s wearing a Speedo,” the GM said.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.