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The Los Angeles Lakers have gone 3-0 in their Western Conference Finals series against the Denver Nuggets, and as NBA fans know, no team has ever come back from that deficit. Now the Lakers enter an offseason with a lot of decisions to make. The biggest question is, though, is the LeBron James contract something LA would consider moving on from?

The LeBron James contract

LeBron James contract, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James | Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

Since LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, James has eschewed the big money and security of long-term deals. Instead, James has opted for the flexibility of short-term contracts that allow him not only to move when he wants but also ensure his teams make the moves he wants before he re-signs.

In that second Cleveland run, James did two one-year deals with player options that he opted out of and one two-year pact with a player option.

With the initial LeBron James contract with the Lakers, the star gave his new team a little more commitment. He did a three-year deal with a player option, and then in 2022, he signed another with two years plus a player option on it.

The current LeBron James contract is for two years and $97,133,373. He’ll make $46,900,000 in the 2023-24 season (although that could increase slightly when the final salary cap comes out). In 2024-25, he has a $50,652,000 player option.

Interestingly, James does not have a no-trade clause. This is because he signed a contract extension and not an entirely new deal. Also, because the second season included more than a 5% raise from year one, the Lakers weren’t allowed to trade the LeBron James contract in 2022-23.

What are the Lakers options?

As the calendar flips to the 2023-24 NBA season this offseason, the Lakers have more options and finally be in the driver’s seat with the LeBron James contract.

He does have that 2024-25 players option, but all reports suggest he timed the deal as such to be able to join his son, Bronny James, when he becomes draft eligible in 2024. James’ deal also coincides with the Anthony Davis contract, which has the same expiration date and player option.

After the team’s surprising run to the Western Conference Finals from the 7-seed, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka will likely try and keep the team together this offseason.

However, that is easier said than done.

Outside of James, Davis, and Jarred Vanderbilt, almost every other key Laker is a free agent this offseason. That includes Rui HachimuraAustin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, Lonnie Walker IV, and Dennis Schröder.

No matter how many of these players the Lakers bring back to start the season, if things don’t go well early in the year, the LeBron James contract could ultimately go on the trade block at the deadline.  

LA has precious little draft capital left for the rest of the decades, and with James turning 39 next season, the current squad isn’t built for the long run. That means the Lakers could consider dealing one of the greatest players of all time next season. The question there is, what would a team give up for a half-season LeBron rental?


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