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Lakers' Future Salary-Cap Space After LeBron James' $85M Contract Extension

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James plays against the Miami Heat during the second half in Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers and superstar forward LeBron James reportedly reached an agreement on a two-year, $85 million max contract extension Wednesday that runs through the 2022-23 NBA season, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

James will play one more season under his previous four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers before the new deal takes effect.

Here's a look at how much practical cap space L.A. will have once the extension kicks in, per Spotrac:

  • 2021-22: $33.5 million
  • 2022-23: $56.1 million

James' new deal will carry a $41.2 million cap hit in the first season and $44.5 million for the final campaign, according to Spotrac.

NBC Sports' Kurt Helin predicted the extension is a move to help pave the way to get free agent Anthony Davis back under contract:

Kurt Helin @basketballtalk

LeBron's contract extension feels like a prelude to Anthony Davis signing a 2+1 deal with the Lakers that lines up their contracts and makes sure Davis gets paid more (35% of cap) he gets to 10 years of service. It also keeps the Lakers in title contention though 2023

Although Davis is technically free to sign with any team, there have been no rumors to suggest he's actively seeking offers from teams other than the Lakers.

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ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported the seven-time All-Star is "on course" to rejoin the defending champions, but discussions about the "length and structure" of the max deal were ongoing.

Davis' arrival from the New Orleans Pelicans in a June 2019 trade gave James the running mate he needed and vaulted L.A. into title contention. The team lived up to those expectations by defeating the Miami Heat in six games in the 2020 Finals.

It marked James' fourth NBA title with his third different team, having raised the Larry O'Brien Trophy with the Miami Heat (2012 and 2013) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2016).

"We can [repeat]. I mean, it's that simple," James said Tuesday on Spectrum SportsNet's Road Trippin' podcast (via ESPN's Dave McMenamin). "We absolutely can. ... First of all, it all starts with health. You have to have some luck. You have to have health. If we can stay healthy."

Assuming a Davis deal eventually gets done, there's no doubt the Lakers will enter the season as the team to beat with the additions of Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol and Dennis Schroder to an already high-end roster.

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