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LeBron James, Lakers Agree to 2-Year, $97.1M Contract Extension; Max Value of $111M

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

One of the greatest players of all time is staying put with the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James agreed to a new two-year, $97.1 million contract with L.A. on Wednesday, agent Rich Paul told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

BREAKING: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has agreed on a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension – including a player option for the 2024-2025 season, <a href="https://twitter.com/KlutchSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KlutchSports</a> CEO Rich Paul tells ESPN. James had been entering final year of deal worth $44.5M.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

The deal can increase to $111 million if the salary cap in 2023-2024 rises to a substantially higher number.

James was previously scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the 2022-23 season.

When his contract status was looming, James talked about his goal of playing alongside his son Bronny in the NBA on multiple occasions. The younger James would be eligible for the 2024 NBA draft assuming the one-and-done rule remains in place.

"My last year will be played with my son," James said in February, per Jason Lloyd of 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."

While it remains to be seen if he will play on the same team as his son, the Lakers ensured James' time with the Purple and Gold is not over yet.

He was already a legend when he joined Los Angeles ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, and his resume now includes four championships, four NBA Finals MVPs, four league MVPs, 18 All-NBA selections, 18 All-Star nods and six All-Defensive selections.

Yet James' time with the Lakers didn't get off to an ideal start.

After reaching eight straight NBA Finals and dominating the Eastern Conference, he missed the playoffs in his first season in Los Angeles in 2018-19. It was the first time he had missed the postseason since his second season in the league in 2004-05.

The 2018-19 season largely derailed after the failure of initial Anthony Davis trade discussions during which Paul—the agent for both James and Davis—made it public knowledge the big man did not want to remain with the New Orleans Pelicans.

To the Lakers' credit, they landed Davis in a trade in the summer of 2019 and won a championship in their second season with James.

That made the James and Los Angeles pairing a success, although the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2020-21. The Lakers missed the postseason again in 2021-22 even though their roster was littered with future Hall of Famers in the King, Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

It was hard to blame James for the Lakers' 33-49 record in 2021-22 since he averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game despite turning 37 years old during the season.

The Lakers would be fine with numbers like that during his new deal.

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