The LA Lakers are coming off the tremendous feat of securing their 17th NBA title after a dominating playoff run. The Lakers have spent the better part of the abbreviated offseason retooling the roster, providing a more substantial buzz around the team ahead of next season. LeBron James has added to that by sending a strong message to the rest of the NBA.
LeBron James inks a two-year extension
The Lakers have operated smoothly throughout the offseason with several significant roster moves.
LA added another one to the list on Wednesday after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported LeBron James agreed to a two-year, $85 million extension. The move pushes James’ contract through the 2022-23 campaign while taking any possibility of entering free agency next summer out of the picture.
The 35-year-old’s deal will likely line up Anthony Davis’ expected new contract with the Lakers. Davis may wind up working out a three-year max contract value deal with a third-year player option. The ability to opt-out of the final year will allow Davis to hit the 10 years of service mark and garner a five-year max deal worth north of $250 million.
Regardless of that situation, James’ extension keeps him in a Lakers’ uniform for at least another season. The transaction also means that the front office will continue to build their team around their pair of star players over the next couple of years.
The Lakers’ impressive offseason also has James quite confident concerning his team’s outlook next season.
LeBron James’ firm message to the rest of the league
The Lakers’ path through the offseason has seen them retool the roster to secure another NBA title run.
In an interview on the latest episode of the Road Trippin’ Podcast, LeBron James didn’t hesitate to confidently voice that he believes the Lakers can repeat. (H/T Dave McMenamin of ESPN)
“We can [repeat]. I mean, it’s that simple,” James said on an episode of “Road Trippin’,” hosted by Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton, that aired Tuesday on Spectrum SportsNet. “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.”
James’ response is fully expected from a defending NBA champion, but the Lakers may genuinely have the pieces in place to repeat. In many regards, they improved the overall roster with tremendous depth at nearly every position.
Much of the Lakers’ title hopes will wind up on James and Davis’ performance, but the supporting cast around them could elevate them further forward. Things are relatively early in the process, but it’s not hard to see why the four-time NBA Finals MVP is confident about his team’s chance next season.
Stiff competition in the West
LeBron James is quite confident in the Lakers’ roster for the 2020-21 campaign, but it won’t be an easy path to navigate through.
Beyond having the targets on their backs as the defending champions, many of the Western Conference teams improved. The LA Clippers are motivated to put last season’s playoff shortcomings behind. Their front office restructured their bench with proven veterans such as Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, and Luke Kennard.
The Denver Nuggets will take a step forward with their stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic only becoming more experienced and skilled. The Portland Trail Blazers also conducted a plethora of moves to retool their roster, while the Dallas Mavericks have added a few pieces.
The road to the NBA Finals will have its challenges in the stacked Western Conference. All those factors will undoubtedly see the true testament of the Lakers’ revamped roster routinely tested next season.