Larry Nance Jr. looked out at the crowd gathered in the gym and knew he made the right choice.
He’s staying home.
“I’m one of you guys,” he said. “I really am. I’m a Cleveland guy at heart.”
Nance signed a $44.8 million, four-year contract extension on Monday with the Cavaliers, the team his father starred for and the one he hopes to help rebuild without LeBron James.
The sides had until 6 p.m. on Monday to work out terms for the deal or Nance would have become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Once the agreement was secured, Nance signed his contract in front of Cavaliers employees on the indoor practice court in Quicken Loans Arena.
After being introduced by general manager Koby Altman, Nance addressed his basketball family.
“I haven’t come up with the word for it yet,” said Nance, wearing a T-shirt with “HOME” on the front. “Surreal doesn’t even cut it. I grew up here. I grew up in this building watching my dad play. To re-up here for four more years and get to wear the (number) 22 in the city of Cleveland, I can’t put it into words. There’s no place I would rather be.”
The 25-year-old Nance joined the Cavs midway through last season after he was acquired in a trade _ along with guard Jordan Clarkson _ from the Los Angeles Lakers. He helped Cleveland reach its fourth straight NBA Finals and the Cavs view him as one of their core players as they try to stay competitive while James starts anew out West with the Lakers.
For Nance, an Akron native like James, Cleveland is the only place he ever wanted to be.
“I was the only person to live in L.A. and vacation in Cleveland,” he said. “Now I can vacation where I live.”
Nance averaged 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24 games last season. He’s expected to share starting duties this season with Tristan Thompson as coach Tyronn Lue plans to match up with the other team’s big men.
Nance’s dad, Larry Sr., was an All-Star with the Cavs from 1987-94 and the first winner of the All-Star dunk contest in 1984. His jersey was retired by Cleveland in 1995, but the team chose to let the younger Nance wear it when he came over last season.