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LeBron’s contract details, potential trades and whether he’ll really leave the Lakers

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All of a sudden, LeBron James‘ contract length with the Los Angeles Lakers has become a subject of discussion. While most people thought The King was looking forward to retiring in the purple and gold jersey, that no longer seems like a lock.

James has reportedly grown tired of Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka. He is discontent with the lack of action at the trade deadline and how Pelinka failed to revamp the team’s roster. Also, the Lakers’ poor performance this season has done little to shut down the rumors about dysfunction within the front office.

LeBron James contract length

LeBron isn’t getting any younger and it’s not a secret that he wants to win another ring before retiring. Anthony Davis would be the perfect sidekick to pull that off when healthy, but that has rarely been the case this season.  So, what does the future hold for the four-time MVP?

LeBron James signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers in 2020. He had originally signed a four-year max deal in 2018. LeBron’s player option year turned into the first part of his extension, which will run out through the 2022-23 season.

James will be an unrestricted free agent at 38 years old. He’s currently earning a base salary of $41,180,544 and will make $44,474,988 in the final year of his contract. He’s eligible for another extension in the offseason but recent reports claim he’s not fully sold yet.


Realistic LeBron James trades

Even despite the recent stories, there aren’t many LeBron trade rumors around. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise, as all potential LeBron trades would imply absorbing a massive cap hit for a one-year audition. Also, it’s not like he’s getting any younger.

The Golden State Warriors could look to put together a package centered around Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, and some of the 12 draft picks they have. The Phoenix Suns could try and do the same with Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Cameron Johnson.

But among all, the Cleveland Cavaliers would make the most sense for The King. They have picks, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, and Lauri Markkanen for that purpose. Then again, why would any team give away anything for an aging player who’s set to be a free agent?

James wants to play with Bronny

Also, it’s worth noting that LeBron James has already made his plans for the future quite clear. He intends to play his final year side by side with his eldest son Bronny James. In fact, he went as far as to say that he’ll sign for whichever team that drafts Bronny, regardless of the money:


“My last year will be played with my son,” the veteran forward told The Athletic. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

This doesn’t come as a surprise as James is one of the pioneers of player empowerment in the NBA. And, after nearly two decades at the highest level, he’s earned the right to fulfil his lifelong dream and just have fun playing with his firstborn.

That statement, however, hasn’t done much to help Bronny’s projected draft stock. Not even the prospect of a 2-for-1 deal with Bronny and LeBron could make him a lottery pick. Per Eric Pinus of Bleacher Report, the young’un out of Sierra Canyon projects to be a second-round pick at best:

“Bronny James will be draft-eligible ahead of the 2024-25 season. James, the father, may prefer a one-year extension with the Lakers or a one-season contract with the Cavaliers to time free agency with his son’s rookie year,” Pinus wrote.

“Having polled several executives, Bronny James probably projects to be a second-round pick at this point, though it’s too early to say with any certainty. A team could reach for the son to lure the father.”

LeBron praises OKC GM Sam Presti

With that in mind, some speculate that the Oklahoma City Thunder could be a potential final destination for The King. They have nearly two dozen draft picks and could afford to use one on James’ eldest son. Moreover, LeBron recently showered Thunder GM Sam Presti in praise for his eye for talent:

“The MVP over there is Sam Presti. He’s the MVP,” James told the media during the All-Star break.

“I mean, Josh Giddey is great. But Sam Presti, I don’t understand this guy’s eye for talent. He drafted [Kevin Durant], Russ [Westbrook], Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Josh Giddey and the list goes on and on and on. This guy is pretty damn good.”

The Thunder are far from a contender right now but they’re certainly heading in the right direction. Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander look like a solid backcourt for the future, Lu Dort is one of the best defenders in the league, and they have some intriguing prospects in Aleksej Pokusevski and Darius Bazley. Add a couple of lottery picks to that mix and they could be up to something.

It’s still too early to tell and this could be nothing more than speculation. But Presti has never hesitated to swing for the fences and having LeBron James on their team might as well be enough to finally put an end to their playoff woes and win their first NBA championship since leaving Seattle.

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