Everyone suspected it might be coming and now it’s all but official.
LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension to remain with the Lakers, agent Rich Paul told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season, Wojnarowski added.
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, Wojnarowski added, and makes James the highest-paid player in NBA history.
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.