LeBron James Rumors: New Lakers Contract Doesn't Play Role in Decision to Trade Star

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dribbles during an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly won't consider trading LeBron James based on his contract status, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

James has one year remaining on his current deal and is eligible for an extension this summer. Absent a new deal, the Lakers could risk losing the superstar for nothing in 2023, but that reportedly won't lead to a trade.

"Sources say [owner Jeanie] Buss wouldn’t see [James'] desire to play out the final season of his contract as a reason to consider trading him," Amick reported.

A year-to-year approach would work for the Lakers, "so long as the relationship with James is still in a good place," per Amick.

James is set to make $44.5 million in 2022-23 and is eligible for a two-year extension worth $97.1 million that will keep him under team control through 2024-25.

However, Amick previously reported in April that he was "considering" playing out his current deal rather than signing a new one. 

"The conversation hasn’t been talked about," James said of a new contract at the time.

LeBron has also been vocal about wanting to play with his son, Bronny, who is first eligible for the NBA draft in 2024. 

"I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year," he told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic in February.

If James is truly going to leave after next season, it makes sense for the Lakers to at least entertain a trade. The squad struggled mightily in 2021-22, finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record. Even if the team stays healthy next year, it's seemingly a long shot to get back into title contention.

The 37-year-old would still have value in a trade, however, especially coming off an impressive individual year where he averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. His dominance on the court and his commercial appeal would keep LeBron a top target for most NBA teams.

Los Angeles could kickstart a rebuild by trading the superstar, rather than allowing him to leave in free agency one year later.

The Lakers still appear content letting James determine his own future.