Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on LeBron James Extension, Anthony Davis, More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IDecember 3, 2020

Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on LeBron James Extension, Anthony Davis, More

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers have made plenty of transactions the past few weeks, but none of them will likely be as important as the one that was reported on Wednesday involving their star player.

    LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $85 million extension that will keep him with the team through the 2022-23 season, according to The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania.

    It was unlikely that the 35-year-old was going to be leaving Los Angeles anytime soon, but now it's a sure thing that he'll be sticking with the NBA champions.

    That wasn't the last item on the Lakers' agenda before the 2020-21 season gets underway on Dec. 22, though. Anthony Davis remains a free agent, and while it's strongly expected he'll return, he hasn't yet worked out his next deal with Los Angeles.

    Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding James, Davis and the Lakers as they prepare for training camp.

What Led to James' Extension?

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    James hasn't been known to sign long-term deals through the first 17 years of his NBA career. His previous contract with the Lakers featured a player option for the 2021-22 season, which meant he could have hit the free-agent market next summer and renegotiated if he wanted.

    Instead, he is guaranteed to be in Los Angeles the next three seasons. As ESPN's Brian Windhorst pointed out, he could have decided to again be a free agent next summer so the Lakers "could have gotten creative to add another major name" in an offseason that could have a bunch of top stars on the market. That's not what he wanted to do, though.

    "But James, sources said, was not interested in that," Windhorst wrote. "He believes the Lakers will continue to spend and continue to draw talent. And his top priority when it comes to his contract has got to be getting everything he has earned."

    James will turn 36 on Dec. 30 and will be 38 by the time his new contract expires in summer 2023. And although he is showing no signs of slowing down (he averaged 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and an NBA-high 10.2 assists in 67 games this past season), it was a wise move for the 16-time All-Star, four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion to ensure he gets paid the next few years in the later stages of his career.

Davis Weighing Structure of Next Contract

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    How long will Davis' next contract with the Lakers be? Will there be options? What will his salary be?

    These are all questions that don't yet have answers, even as the 2020-21 season gets closer. And according to Windhorst, the 27-year-old is still trying to develop a long-term plan that prepares him for the future.

    "As for Davis, sources said, he is still weighing how to structure his contract as he tries to gauge how the salary cap will grow in the next few years," Windhorst wrote. "Davis has been looking at spreadsheets trying to best guess how to plan the contracts for the rest of his career beyond this deal he's soon to sign."

    Both James and Davis are represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, but Windhorst noted that Davis' "decision-making is independent of James'." So, just because James is signed through the next three seasons, it doesn't mean Davis will sign a longer-term deal.

    Windhorst previously reported Davis could be waiting to structure his deal until Giannis Antetokounmpo decides whether to sign a five-year supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks.

    If Antetokounmpo chooses to hit free agency next summer, then Davis could help the Lakers create more flexibility to try to land the two-time reigning NBA MVP.

What Role Will Schroder Have This Season?

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Dennis Schroder has made it known that he'd like to be the starting point guard in his first season with the Lakers. However, whether that's going to be the case has yet to be decided.

    ESPN's Dave McMenamin recently reported that Los Angeles has yet to settle on its starting lineup for 2020-21, and it's possible Schroder may not even be in it.

    "Though Schroder will be considered for the starting point guard spot, he could also be asked to fill in off the bench, sources said," McMenamin wrote.

    Schroder has served in both roles during his seven-year NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder. Over the past two seasons with the Thunder, he mostly came off the bench, starting only 16 of his 144 games with the team. He had success, though, averaging 17 points and 4.1 assists per game in his time in Oklahoma City.

    This past season, the 27-year-old finished second in voting for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award behind Montrezl Harrell, who is also now on the Lakers. Los Angeles signed Harrell as a free agent shortly after acquiring Schroder in a trade with Oklahoma City.

    Will Schroder get his wish and return to being a starter? It will likely be a storyline to follow as the buildup to the season continues.