Thursday was the first day the Lakers and LeBron James could talk contract extension beyond this coming season. The Lakers can offer up to $97.1 million over two years to keep LeBron playing his home games at Staples Center through his age 40 season.
The sides talked and LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the discussions were “productive.”
LeBron James and his representative Rich Paul of Klutch Sports met with Lakers VP of basketball ops and GM Rob Pelinka on Thursday regarding James’ eligible contract extension. Paul told ESPN the discussion was “productive” and both sides will continue a dialogue.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) August 4, 2022
No deal was reached, according to McMenamin. LeBron has until June 30 of next year to sign an extension with the Lakers.
The negotiations are not about money, the Lakers will gladly give LeBron the max. The Lakers can offer two years at $97.1 million, one year at $47 million, or LeBron could choose a 1+1 option where he would have a player option after the first season of his extension.
That option would fall in the summer of 2024, the first year his son Bronny James could enter the NBA. LeBron has said he wants to play a season with his son.
LeBron’s family and how comfortable they are in Los Angeles will play a big role in his decision on an extension. In the past, LeBron has used short contracts and potential free agency as leverage to push roster moves he wants to see out of a franchise. The Lakers as currently constructed are not a contender, LeBron’s relationship with Russell Westbrook is “frosty,” and there has been discussion of a Westbrook trade (either for the Nets’ Kyrie Irving or the Pacers’ Buddy Hield and Myles Turner). LeBron may push for roster moves he wants to see before putting pen to paper in Los Angeles. Would the Lakers be more willing to put the two first-round draft picks they control — 2027 and 2029 — into a trade if they knew LeBron was locked in for a few more years? Maybe.
LeBron could choose not to sign the extension and become a free agent next summer at age 38. But is he looking to be on the move again with his family settled in Los Angeles and his post-career entertainment company business based in the city?
Looking or not, speculation will run through the NBA until LeBron puts pen to paper on that extension (or a new contract).