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LeBron James, Lakers Had 'Productive' Contract Talks Thursday, Rich Paul Says

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 4, 2022

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James is now eligible for a contract extension, and he and the Los Angeles Lakers apparently got off on the right foot Thursday.

Rich Paul, who is James' representative with Klutch Sports, said contract discussions between the two sides were "productive" and will be ongoing after he and James met with Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

James' current contract is set to expire after the 2022-23 season, and his long-term status figures to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the entire league until he signs a new deal.

Perhaps complicating things from the Lakers' perspective is James' repeated insistence that he wants to play with his son, Bronny. Bronny will be eligible for the 2024 NBA draft, so James signing a long-term deal with Los Angeles or anywhere else before that would complicate his efforts to team up with his son.

There is also an age factor, as James turns 38 years old in December.

He has shown few signs of slowing down when he is on the court, but he played just 56 games last season, 45 games in 2020-21 and 55 games in 2018-19. The wear-and-tear on his body after such a long career with numerous deep playoff runs is a storyline worth monitoring even if he seems to defy age when he is on the floor.

The 18-time All-Star averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game last season and likely would have been included in the MVP discussion if he played more games or if the 33-49 Lakers were better.

As the roster currently stands, Los Angeles will look largely the same with James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook as the featured pieces next season. It is difficult to imagine it going from out of the playoffs altogether to winning a title without significant improvements, so James may also look elsewhere to improve his chances at a fifth ring on his next deal.

The Lakers can at least take solace knowing that the discussions have been "productive" to this point, but there are plenty of factors in play that could determine where James ends up next.

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