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LeBron James' New 2-Year, $97.1M Contract with Lakers 'Huge,' Darvin Ham Says

Adam WellsAugust 26, 2022

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is breathing a sigh of relief after LeBron James signed an extension with the team last week.

Speaking to Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints.com, Ham called James' decision to extend his tenure with the Lakers "huge" for the franchise.

"LeBron is once-in-a-lifetime player," he added. "You only get so many players. Not even so many. You have Bill Russell, you have Wilt Chamberlain, you have Dr. J, you have Moses Malone, you had Larry Bird, Magic [Johnson], you had [Michael] Jordan, you had Allen Iverson, Shaq [O’Neal], Kobe [Bryant], and now it’s LeBron’s time."

James signed a two-year, $97.1 million deal on Aug. 18, keeping him under contract to the Lakers through the 2023-24 season.

There was initially some skepticism that James would give the Lakers a commitment. He became eligible to sign a two-year deal on Aug. 4, but it took two weeks to get a deal done.

James seemed to have a lot of leverage in the situation. Despite being limited to 56 games last season due to injuries, he had the second-highest scoring average of his career (30.3 points per game) and finished second on the Lakers in assists (6.2) and rebounds (8.2).

Even at 37 years old, James remains one of the best players in the league. The Lakers' roster remains in a state of flux, with concerns about Anthony Davis' durability and lingering questions about Russell Westbrook's fit with the team.

Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka did boost the team's backcourt on Thursday by acquiring Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.

There's still work for the Lakers to do if they want to be considered among the top teams in the Western Conference. They do have the ability to use their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks as a potential sweetener in a Westbrook trade, though there's no indication at this point that anything is on the verge of happening.

The Lakers did win the 2019-20 NBA championship but have otherwise not won a postseason series in four years with James. They have missed the playoffs twice during that span, including last season with a 33-49 record.

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