First, the Cavaliers got LeBron James’s word. Then they got his signature.
James signed a two-year, $42.1 million contract with the Cavaliers on Saturday, a day after he announced he was returning to play in Cleveland to 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’s 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.
By signing for just two years, James can get another contract with the Cavaliers 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 Cavaliers did not provide any terms of the contract in a release, citing league policy.
James announced he was returning to the Cavaliers on Friday, in an essay in Sports Illustrated, indicating he will finish his career in Cleveland.
‘‘We could not be happier to welcome LeBron James home,’’ Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said. ‘‘Yesterday, LeBron, through his essay, told us he wasn’t going anywhere except Cleveland and that ‘Cleveland is where he always believed he would finish his career.’ ”
ESPN.com first reported the contract terms for James.
The Cavaliers gave James some height behind him Saturday, acquiring 7-foot center Brendan Haywood and forward Dwight Powell from Charlotte for guard Scotty Hopson and cash considerations.
A 12-year veteran, Haywood missed all of last season with a broken foot.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade said he is sad to see James leave Miami, and he supports him regardless.
Wade released a statement calling James ‘‘my brother,’’ saying he knows James’s decision was not an easy one.
Together, James, Wade, and Chris Bosh went to the NBA Finals in each of their four seasons together in Miami, winning the championship twice.
Wade said, ‘‘We achieved the goals we set when we first signed on together. We are champions.’’
Gasol headed 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 Twitter account that he reached agreement with the Bulls.
‘‘It hasn’t been easy,’’ Gasol tweeted. ‘‘After meditating it a lot I've chosen to play with the Chicago Bulls. Looking forward to this new chapter of my career.’’
Gasol spent parts of the last seven seasons in Los Angeles, teaming with Kobe Bryant to win two championships and reach another NBA Finals.
The exact terms of his agreement with the Bulls were not immediately clear. The Bulls and Lakers had reportedly been discussing sign-and-trade options early, but no announcement from either team had been made.
The 7-foot Gasol is a four-time All-Star and averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games last season with Los Angeles, and he brings some sorely needed offense to the Chicago frontcourt.
Utah keeps Hayward
Gordon Hayward is staying in Utah after all.
The Jazz matched Charlotte’s four-year, $63 million offer for the restricted free agent. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed Utah’s move that was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
The Jazz had until late Sunday to match the Hornets’ maximum offer sheet for the 6-foot-8-inch 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.
The Jazz, who couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension with the 24-year-old last fall, extended a qualifying offer on June 26, making him a restricted free agent.
After losing out on Hayward, Charlotte landed one of his former Jazz teammates in Marvin Williams, who agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract. The 28-year-old averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 66 games last season, including 50 starts.
Rockets nab Ariza
Small forward Trevor Ariza agreed to terms with Houston, according to media reports.
Ariza’s departure spoils the Wizards’ effort to maintain continuity after winning a playoff series for the first time in nine years.
Seeking a raise from the $7.7 million he received last year, Ariza got a slight bump from the Rockets in committing to a four-year deal worth $32 million.
In his second season with the Wizards, Ariza averaged 14.4 points. With Ariza accepting a lower-than-expected deal in Houston, the Rockets still hope to retain restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, who signed a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with Dallas.
If the Mavericks whiff on Parsons, they are expected to aggressively go after Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson, according to media reports.
Meanwhile, Houston general manager Daryl Morey still plans on sending Jeremy Lin to the Lakers in a salary dump, even after the Rockets failed to land Bosh in free agency.
OKC signs Morrow
Free agent guard Anthony Morrow agreed to three-year, $10 million deal with the Thunder. Morrow, who played for New Orleans last season, is a career 43 percent shooter from 3-point range . . . Phoenix announced the acquisition of point guard Isaiah Thomas in a sign-and-trade deal with the Kings. The 5-9 Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists for the Kings last season . . . The Toronto Raptors re-signed restricted free agent forward Patrick Patterson, who averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last season. Terms were not disclosed.