From the day he signed there, LeBron James has been clear he didn’t plan to leave the Lakers, except maybe to play a season with his son, Bronny. This was where he intended not only to finish his career but build his post-NBA life (his production company is based in Los Angeles).
Next Thursday, LeBron’s actions can show his commitment to the purple and gold. On August 4, LeBron is eligible for a contract extension of up to two years, $97.1 million with The Lakers. Los Angeles will put that in front of him, and whether LeBron signs it or not will be one of the most scrutinized decisions of the summer — if he doesn’t sign an extension by next July he will become a free agent. Speculation will fly until LeBron puts pen to paper — and it already has. Brian Windhorst of ESPN couldn’t help but stir the pot this week and mention how much cap space the Cavaliers will have next summer.
But whether LeBron signs the extension immediately or not, don’t look for him to bolt the Lakers, reports Marc Stein in his latest newsletter.
Sources briefed on the matter stress that James is extremely happy in Los Angeles despite the Lakers’ back-to-back rocky seasons. He and his family, by all accounts, have grown increasingly entrenched in Southern California since James signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2018.
The prevailing thinking in league circles holds that only the chance to play elsewhere alongside son Bronny James, who will be eligible for the 2024 draft and continues to develop as an NBA prospect, would spur LeBron to push for an L.A. exit.
LeBron’s options with the extension are pretty straightforward:
• Do nothing and play out this season in Los Angeles, then make a decision on re-signing with the Lakers or going somewhere else next summer.
• Sign an extension with the Lakers. While that could be one year at $46.7 million or two years at $97.1 million, the smart bet would be a 1+1 contract that would tie LeBron and the Lakers together for two seasons but allow LeBron to opt out and sign elsewhere in 2024-25 (the season Bronny could enter the NBA).
The Lakers as an organization have bent over backward to make LeBron happy, including bringing in a lot of Klutch clients (LeBron’s agent), and listening to him when he wanted them to pursue Russell Westbrook via trade (to be clear, he and Anthony Davis were not the only ones who wanted this in the Lakers organization, this was no shotgun marriage). LeBron noticed.
As Stein reports, expect LeBron to sign an extension. The only thing getting him to move on from the Lakers would be his son in a couple of years.