In the year August 18: The Lakers officially signed James to an extension, the team announced (Twitter link via Marc Stein).
Aug. 17: All-star forward LeBron James has agreed to a contract extension with the Lakers, Clutch Sports agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It will be a new two-year, max-salary contract with Wojnarowski that includes a second-year player option. That means James is now under contract with the Lakers through at least the 2023/24 season, with an option in ’24/25. The deal includes a 15 percent trade-in, Woj added.
James is making $44,474,988 in 2022/23, which is more than $43,279,250 for a player with 10-plus years of NBA experience. Still eligible for a 5% raise with a new extension, LeBron’s 2023/24 salary could be $46,698,737. His ’24/25 player option will be worth $50,434,636, an 8% increase in the first year of his increase, for a total two-year value of $97,133,373.
If the NBA salary cap for ’23/24 is higher than expected, the value of James’ extension could increase further. The cap is currently estimated to be $133MM, but if it goes above $133,425,000, LeBron’s base salary will be worth 35% on the extension.
[RELATED: 2022/23 NBA Contract Extension Tracker]
James became eligible for a new two-year extension on Aug. 4. He was not eligible to sign a contract beyond that due to the NBA’s over-38 rule.
Despite his new eligibility, there was a sense that James would not immediately rush into a new deal. The four-time MVP would have been able to stay committed and possibly have more of an impact on the Lakers’ roster moves. Taking that route would have given Broun the chance to review the squad’s deals and new head coach Darwin Hamm in the 2022/23 season.
However, despite a disappointing 33-49 record last season and lingering questions over the roster, James seems comfortable renewing his commitment to the Lakers. The new deal gives LeBron the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent at age 39, at which point he is expected to try to join his son, Brony James, who will be eligible for the draft before 2024.
Although the Lakers definitely don’t intend to move him, James’ extension makes him eligible to be traded through the 2022/23 season – he can’t be dealt for six months after signing the contract, because of the NBA’s “extend-and-trade” restrictions.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN (insider link) previously noted, the Lakers’ potential 2023 cap space will not be affected by James’ new extension in any way, as the free agent cap hit will be equal to the extension’s salary. Los Angeles projects that several contracts in the $20MM-plus category — including Russell Westbrook’s — will expire next summer, which will open up some options for the team, but not enough for another high-paid player.
James’ new contract makes him the highest-paid player in NBA history, at least for the time being, according to Marks’ tweets. Assuming LeBron’s deal ends at $97.1MM, he’ll earn $532MM more than Kevin Durant’s $508MM in career earnings.