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James officially a Cav

Summer vacation is over for LeBron James. It's time to join the work force.

James signed his three-year, $12.96-million rookie contract with the Cavaliers, who selected the 18-year-old Akron high school phenom with the No. 1 overall pick 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 had endorsement deals worth more than $100-million and soon will add more to his bulging business portfolio, will be paid $4.02-million next season by the Cavs.

As per the league's collective bargaining agreement, James will get $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 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 leaves 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.

"He wants to get down there and start playing," Paxson said. "He's ready to start playing basketball. The kid loves to play."

The Cavs will play in the league through July 12, then head to Boston for games July 14-20.

James' participation in the summer leagues was one of the few obstacles his agent, Aaron Goodwin, and the Cavaliers had to overcome during their contract talks.

Coach Paul Silas plans to experiment with the 6-foot-8 James at point guard, the weakest position on Cleveland's roster.

SONICS: First-round pick Luke Ridnour has a fractured pelvis but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late September. An MRI exam Monday showed a slight fracture, and he will be re-examined in 2-4 weeks. The guard out of Oregon, who was the Pac-10 player of the year last season, was injured during a workout with the Bucks last month but thought it was a mild abdominal strain and worked out later with the Sonics and other teams. Ridnour will not participate in contact drills during the three-day camp that starts Sunday or play summer league for the Sonics.

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