CLEVELAND - LeBron James made another sizable deposit to his bank account.
James signed his three-year, $12.96 million rookie contract Thursday with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who selected the 18-year-old Akron high school phenom No. 1 overall in the NBA draft.
"I'm thrilled that he signed," general manager Jim Paxson said Thursday. "It will start his journey of being an NBA player, and that is exciting for us."
James, who already had endorsement deals worth more than $100 million, will be paid $4.02 million next season by the Cavaliers.
As per the league's collective bargaining agreement, the Cavaliers will pay James $4.32 million in 2004-05 and $4.62 million in 2005-06.
The team has a club option for a fourth year at $5.8 million.
James' contract represents a 20 percent increase on the deal the Houston Rockets gave center Yao Ming, last year's top pick.
Getting James signed quickly was a priority for the Cavaliers, who will have him on their summer league roster.
The team left for Florida on Saturday to begin practicing for Orlando's six-team instructional league. James is expected to make his exhibition debut Tuesday against the Magic.
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