What LeBron James’ new deal is really about, plus analyzing the 2022-23 NBA schedule

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

LEBRON JAMES…

LeBron James isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. James agreed to a two-year, $97.1-million extension through the 2024-25 season, when he’ll turn 40. The deal includes a player option for the final season.

  • With $532 million in career guaranteed money, James passes Kevin Durant for most in NBA history.
  • This aligns James’ contract with Anthony Davis, who also has a 2024-25 player option.
  • James has expressed interest in playing with his son Bronny, who we’ve talked about a lot recently and will hypothetically be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft.

The Lakers have a ton of work to do to take advantage of this potential two-year window with James and Davis. They replaced head coach Frank Vogel with Darvin Ham and overhauled their supporting cast around James, Davis and Russell Westbrook. The Lakers finished 33-49 last year, the worst record of any team James has been on.

This extension, though, is much bigger than the on-court product, opines our NBA columnist Bill Reiter.

  • Reiter: “The strategy behind this new deal is equal parts personal over the professional and long-term branding, and both point to a subtler, older version of James. He’s exchanged ‘not two, not three, not four’ for future quality NBA time with his son, and the need to collect rings in the GOAT chase for something now more interesting and subtle.”

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO DERWIN JAMES

There’s another James who’s getting paid a ton to stay in the City of Angels. Chargers star safety Derwin James signed a four-year, $76-million extension that makes him the highest-paid safety in NFL history and ties him to the team through 2026.

  • The immediate impact is that James will finally practice; he had been holding in.
  • The extension includes a record $42-million signing bonus.
  • James has been a Pro Bowler in both of his healthy seasons (2018 and 2021) and was a first-team All-Pro in 2018. However, he missed all of 2020 and played only five games in 2019.

James’ versatility is unmatched. Last year, he lined up for at least 50 snaps at both safety spots, two linebacker spots and slot cornerback; the Chargers allowed 5.3 yards per play when James was on the field compared to 6.6 yards per play when he wasn’t.

Honorable mentions

  • The Yankees won on a walk-off grand slam.
  • The Lakers are retiring Pau Gasol‘s jersey.
  • Mets call-up Brett Baty homered in his first career at-bat.
  • The Liberty beat the Sky and the Aces beat the Mercury in last night’s Game 1s.

And not such a good morning for…


Getty Images

JON DANIELS

The Rangers overhaul continues as the team parted ways with president of baseball operations Jon Daniels two days after firing manager Chris Woodward.

  • Daniels, 44, had been with the Rangers since October 2005, when he became the youngest GM in MLB history. He added president of baseball operations to his title in March 2013.
  • The Rangers found historic success under Daniels, making their first World Series in 2010 and then making it again in 2011 (they lost both times, coming within one out in 2011). They also made the playoffs in 2012, 2015 and 2016 — but have not since.
  • GM Chris Young — who pitched for the team in 2004 and 2005 — will take over Daniels’ role.

It’s a bit of a strange time in Texas as the team’s front office undergoes major changes while the attempt to build a contender has already started. The Rangers handed out over $500 million in guarantees this offseason with splashy signings such as Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jon Gray and Martín Pérez but are still headed toward their sixth straight losing season.

What fueled this downfall? Our MLB reporter R.J. Anderson has three answers, including…

  • Anderson: “The Rangers drafted Joey Gallo with the second of their three first-round picks in 2012. … The Rangers’ 15 subsequent first-round picks have combined for negative Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference’s calculations. … The Rangers’ problems with converting their top youngsters into good big-league players seemed as persistent as any club’s over the last decade.”

Not so honorable mentions

Season previews, projections and fantasy targets for all 32 NFL teams 🏈

Today marks three weeks until the Super Bowl-champion Rams welcome the Bills to Los Angeles to kick off the 2022 season, and I could not be more excited. On Sept. 8, I’ll be sitting on my couch with some good food in front of me and meaningful football on my television, and that makes me smile. I hope you’ll be doing the same.

In order to tide you over until then, however, our NFL guru Cody Benjamin has season previews for all 32 teams complete with projections and fantasy targets as well. One of the teams I’m most intrigued by is the Eagles, and here’s what Cody has to say.

  • Benjamin: “The ground game could still keep them rolling thanks to a stud line featuring Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, and the ‘D’ is vastly improved at every level thanks to an offseason haul including Haason Reddick and James Bradberry. But their ultimate destination will lie in the hands of Jalen Hurts‘ development, or lack thereof, as a passer now that he’s got ex-Titans star A.J. Brown out wide alongside DeVonta Smith.”

You can read all 32 previews here.

Introducing the CBS Sports Preseason All-America team, Player of the Year 🏆


Graphic by Mike Meredith

We’re just nine (!) days away from the start of the college football season, and with the Coaches Poll and AP Poll out, it’s time to focus on CBS Sports’ 2022 Preseason All-America team.

Here are the first-team offensive skill position players:

  • QB Bryce Young (Alabama)
  • RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)
  • RB TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State)
  • WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
  • WR Jordan Addison (USC)
  • TE Brock Bowers (Georgia)

That quarterback spot will be a fascinating one to watch with Young as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner but Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and USC’s Caleb Williams likely to be right on his heels.

It’s the defensive side, though, where we find the CBS Sports Preseason Player of the Year: Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. He was the unanimous choice, and our college football insider Dennis Dodd’s terrific story on him explains why:

  • Dodd: “Anderson’s impact extends far beyond his stat line. In an age when edge rushers are so valued, he forces Bama observers to crack the vault and research the program’s history. Ultimately, Anderson has to be considered among the best-ever Tide players at his position only two seasons into his career. … The best comparison for Anderson might be Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas. … If Thomas hadn’t left us, there could have been a formal passing of the torch from one freakish athlete to another at Alabama. There are already flashes of Thomas in his play.”

This was a great look at the potential No. 1 overall pick in 2023, and you can see who else joined him on the preseason All-America team here.

NBA schedule release: What are the must-watch games? 🏀


USATSI

The entire 2022-23 NBA schedule has arrived, and here are some key dates:

Christmas Day is often seen as the premier slate for the NBA, and that certainly holds true this year. But there’s one game that stands out above the rest, writes NBA reporter Michael Kaskey-Blomain.

  • Kaskey-Blomain: Bucks at Celtics — This is a battle between the last two Eastern Conference champions, and potentially the conference’s top two teams as currently constructed. … It wouldn’t be surprising, at all, to see either one of these teams again represent the East in the Finals this season, and getting to watch them battle it out on Christmas is a treat for basketball fans.”

As for everything else you need to know…

What we’re watching Thursday 📺

The WNBA playoffs continue tonight. Here’s how to watch.

And also…

🏈 Bears at Seahawks, 8 p.m. on ESPN





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