Expert takeaways from LeBron James LA Lakers reported extension | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats & Rumors

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, according to ESPN. Adrian Wojnarowskigiving them the clarity they need to move forward.

Whether that future includes Russell Westbrook for the upcoming 2022-23 season remains to be seen. But James will now be under contract until at least 2023-24, which could open the door for the Lakers to make major changes to their roster.

How much money?

A veteran like James can typically extend his previous salary ($44.5 million) by 20%, which would have been $53.4 million. However, that’s well above the projected maximum salary for the 2023-24 season ($46.6 million).

Instead, James will be capped at $46.7 million (a 5% increase over his 2022-23 salary), although the exact figure will not be determined until the 2023-24 salary cap is released. set for next June. James could earn up to $47.6 million if the cap exceeds the current projection of $133 million.

James also has a player option worth nearly $51 million for 2024-25 which lines up nicely with Anthony Davis’ $43.2 million early termination option.

With no one else currently under contract for this season, the Lakers could prioritize getting their books clean for July 2024 in case James and Davis leave. They could also go all-in on a three-year run in the hope that James and Davis complete their respective deals.

The Lakers could then aim to start cleanly again in 2025, when the NBA’s next national television deal could reshape the league’s economy.

Cap Room potential in 2023

The Lakers fiercely protected their financial flexibility while waiting for James to sign his extension. Lonnie Walker IV, their biggest off-season acquisition, is on a one-year, $6.5 million deal. They only signed second-round pick Max Christie ($1.7 million) and veteran Damian Jones ($2.6 million player option) throughout the 2023-24 campaign.

The Lakers could get up to $20.1 million in cap space next summer if the cap lands at $133 million and Talen Horton-Tucker picks his $11 million player option for the season 2023-24. That number could jump to $31.5 million if Horton-Tucker and Jones step down.

If the Lakers go the cap space route, they will also benefit from the $5.8 million mid-tier exception. If they choose to stay above the cap by re-signing players such as Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, Kendrick Nunn, Thomas Bryant or Juan Toscano-Anderson, they would have access to the non-taxpaying mid-tier ($11.3 million). dollars) and bi-annual exceptions ($4.4 million) as long as they remain below the $168 million luxury tax apron.

Maximum salaries next summer are expected to range from $33.3 million to $46.6 million.

Prioritizing cap space would also make the Lakers unlikely to take additional pay via trade, which could limit their options when it comes to moving Westbrook.

What’s next for Westbrook?

According to multiple sources connected to teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers were unwilling to part ways with a major capital project to get out of Westbrook’s contract. But it may be linked to the uncertainty surrounding the future of James, who is now laid to rest.

The meaning of these sources: Westbrook will have a new home when the Lakers greenlight trades that include both their 2027 and 2029 first rounds. What’s still unclear is whether LA will be willing to do it.

If the Lakers decide to go all-in to build a contender around James and Davis for the next few seasons, holding out for the uncertainty of cap space in 2023 wouldn’t be pragmatic. Instead, they should be looking for a team looking to get out of multi-year commitments for Westbrook and write up compensation.

After trading All-Star center Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz appear to be heading for a rebuild. They could be open to accepting picks and Westbrook’s salary for players like Mike Conley (partially guaranteed for 2023-24), Malik Beasley (team option), Jordan Clarkson (player option) and Rudy Gay (team option). player). Patrick Beverley and Bojan Bogdanovic, who are in the final years of their respective deals, could be particularly attractive to the Lakers.

The Spurs have enough cap space to make a lopsided trade for Westbrook, but they might want the Lakers to take Doug McDermott’s $13.8 million salary for 2023-24. Josh Richardson, who has an expiring $12.2 million contract, could also be available.

The Lakers have explored runs for Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would also want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 . The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers manager Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner in hopes he would extend or re-sign beyond his current salary of $17.5-20 million for 2022-23.

It’s unclear if the Lakers would be open to signing players under contract beyond 2024-25, like Julius Randle of the New York Knicks or Terry Rozier of the Charlotte Hornets.


James’ decision on whether to choose his player option in 2024-25 could hinge on his son, Bronny James, who plans to be draft eligible in 2024.

The Lakers owe a first-round pick that year to the New Orleans Pelicans, though New Orleans may defer the selection to 2025. They also won’t get a second-round pick.

LA has the highest second-round pick between the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies, but will it be high enough to land Bronny if he decides to declare?

If the Lakers hope to keep James beyond 2023-24, finding a way to get Bronny into the draft could be key.

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter, @EricPincus.

Leave a Comment