GM Rob Pelinka: LeBron James Driving Force Of Lakers Culture For Years To Come

LeBron James has officially signed his contract extension with the Lakers, the team announced. LeBron James Darius Garland

“LeBron is a generational basketball player who has proven to be even more impactful as a human being. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him, ensuring he’s a driving force of Lakers culture for years to come,” GM Rob Pelinka said in a statement.

“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.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the extension as being for two years and $97.1 million, making James the highest-earning player in NBA history.

Per Wojnarowski, James’ new deal can increase to $111 million if the salary cap in 2023-2024 climbs to a higher number. The deal also includes a trade kicker.

He last signed an extension on Dec. 3, 2020. Under normal circumstances, James would be extension-eligible on Dec. 3 of this year, but because COVID messed with the NBA calendar, he will do so now. He and Paul met with the Lakers GM Rob Pelinka last week to get the ball rolling.

Again, this isn’t necessarily a huge surprise. As relayed by Marc Stein of the Stein Line, James’ family is “entrenched” in LA — and their desire to move to Southern California is a major reason why James went there in the first place, sources have told Hoops Wire.

His sons, Bronny and Bryce James, play at Sierra Canyon High School, and it’s been said LeBron doesn’t want to leave until Bryce finishes school. And perhaps not even then.

James, 37, had another outstanding season individually, averaging 30.1 points and passing Karl Malone for second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. But the Lakers struggled mightily, finishing a disappointing 33-49, with a roster that was largely over-the-hill, with a sprinkling of younger players. 

He seemed to hedge a bit when asked about the contract extension at the end of the season.

“The conversation hasn’t been talked about,” James told reporters. “Technically it’s because (with) the collective bargaining agreement (it) cannot even be discussed until later on in the year. So, you know, I know what’s out there. But we can’t even — myself and Rich — can’t even begin to talk with Rob, or the front office at all, because of the collective bargaining agreement. So (when) we get to that point, we’ll see.”

But now, it’s a mute point. James will not only be back with in LA, but he very well could retire there.

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