LeBron James, Lakers agree to two-year, $97.1 million contract extension

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension with LeBron James, the team announced Thursday. This deal will keep LeBron in Los Angeles through the 2024-25 season, when he will be 40 years old. He will, however, have a player option for the final year of the deal. 

If there is a significant salary cap increase for the 2023-24 season, when the extension begins, it could rise to as much as $111 million. Regardless, the agreement has taken LeBron over $532 million in guaranteed money for his career, moving him past Kevin Durant as the NBA’s new all-time earner. 

“LeBron is a generational basketball player who has proven to be even more impactful as a human being,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him, ensuring he’s a driving force of Lakers culture for years to come. The Lakers platform has proved again and again to be an ideal place for the game’s all-time greats to thrive and achieve. We are thankful LeBron has experienced the power of that. With his transcendent talent, unrivaled passion and dedication to causing powerful change in our society, LeBron continues to cement his legacy in Los Angeles and around the globe.”

While James does not have a no-trade clause, his contract does include a 15 percent trade kicker, which combined with his starting salary of $46.7 million and his stature as the game’s most powerful player, means he will likely remain a Laker for as long as he desires. 

Will that be until the end of his career? Perhaps, but it’s worth noting that with his player option for 2024-25, his contractual situation is now aligned with that of Anthony Davis. Furthermore, LeBron has made it clear that he intends to play with his son, Bronny, for at least one season. Bronny will be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft, and LeBron can become a free agent that summer. There will likely be significant changes in L.A. that summer, which means the Lakers now have a two-year window to win with LeBron and Davis. 

Whether they can do so remains to be seen. The team is coming off a disastrous 2021-22 campaign in which they were beset by injuries and poor roster construction and finished in 11th place in the Western Conference at 33-49. That mark was the worst since LeBron arrived in 2018, and wasn’t even good enough for the play-in tournament. It was clear changes were necessary.

Over the summer they fired Frank Vogel and hired Darvin Ham as their new head coach, and have tried to inject the roster with youth and athleticism. They will also bank on better health for LeBron and Davis, who last season played just 50 and 46 games, respectively. None of that will matter, though, unless they are able to find a suitor for Russell Westbrook. Trading the disgruntled guard, who simply does not fit on the roster, has proven to be a difficult task. The Lakers have been at it all summer and have not been able to find a deal. 

Whatever happens with the Westbrook saga, we can expect the usual output from LeBron. He is coming off another stellar individual season, in which he made his 18th straight All-Star appearance and the All-NBA Third Team. His 30.3 points per game were his most since 2008 when he was still in his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he added 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists to go along with his impressive scoring. 





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