LeBron James will become a free agent on July 1, but is expected to return to the Cavaliers. The only question is the type of contract he signs.

James had until Wednesday at midnight to pick up the option year on his contract for next season, but as expected, he will instead become a free agent, according to multiple reports. Thatís only to maximize his earning power, since he made it clear during the Cavsí parade last week that he wants to remain in Cleveland.

James can sign his patented one-year deal with a player option for another season and earn about $27.5 million next season, or he can sign a two-year deal using Early Bird rights and make about $64 million over the next two years. The maximum James can sign for this summer is four years and about $138 million, but he could be sacrificing millions under a long-term deal due to an exploding salary cap and the potential for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Cavs General Manager David Griffin told ESPN Radio recently his intent is to keep the core of the team intact, particularly now that they are NBA champions.

Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are both under team control for three more years, while Tristan Thompson has four years left on his deal. Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye are under team control for two more years and Matthew Dellavedova is a restricted free agent this summer.

J.R. Smith is an unrestricted free agent, but the Cavs would like to bring him back on another short-term deal, one league source with knowledge of the teamís thinking indicated recently. James Jones is also a free agent, but he is expected to return again. Richard Jefferson could be the lone wild card.

Jefferson held a key role in the Cavsí championship march while playing on a one-year deal for the league minimum. The Vertical recently reported Jefferson will continue his career, but could be looking for a multiyear deal.

Jason Lloyd can be reached at jlloyd@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.