The LA Lakers have a rich history of success and a wealth of talent over the years that is only matched by their longtime rival Boston Celtics. The Lakers have also worked out some highly lucrative deals that have broken the bank a few times. Here’s a list of the five highest contracts in team history.
5. Kobe Bryant – Three-year, $90 million
Bryant agreed to the deal in April 2010 just before LA’s push toward their epic seven-game series in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, marking the fifth NBA title in the decade. The Lakers returned to powerhouse status over the previous two-plus years with All-Star big man Pau Gasol alongside the star guard.
Although the Lakers didn’t reach the Finals after the 2009-10 season with Bryant, it kept their star player in tow for several more years.
4. Shaquille O’Neal – Seven-year, $120 million
In the summer of 1996, Lakers general manager Jerry West made it a point to change the landscape of the franchise.
West did just that by acquiring a Hall of Fame talent with Shaquille O’Neal. The star big man quickly made a significant impact in LA as one of the franchise cornerstones. He and Bryant became one of the best duos in NBA history that led the team to tremendous success.
In his Lakers’ tenure alone, O’Neal racked up a Hall of Fame resume as he earned three NBA titles, three NBA Finals MVP awards, a regular-season MVP trophy, seven All-Star Game nods, and five All-NBA First Team selections. Although his time in LA ended on rocky terms, O’Neal certainly made the best of it.
3. Kobe Bryant – Seven-year, $136.4 million
It should be entirely unsurprising that Kobe Bryant lands twice on this exclusive list. However, this instance came with a bit of uncertainty before the move.
The Lakers were coming off their fourth NBA Finals appearance in five years, where they fell short in five games to the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Things reached a breaking point for the Lakers with the internal friction between Bryant and O’Neal.
The team chose to go the younger route with keeping their star guard, which almost saw him sign a deal in free agency with the LA Clippers. Bryant went through some rough stretches with the franchise early in his contract, which pushed him to request a trade in 2007. However, things smoothed over once star big man Pau Gasol arrived, leading to winning two of three trips to the NBA finals.
2. LeBron James – Four-year, $153.3 million
In the months before the move, there were continued rumblings about LeBron James considering joining the Lakers.
James made that official in July 2018 as he agreed to a max contract with LA that changed the franchise’s fate. The first season was marred with injuries, including James missing 17 straight games with a groin ailment.
The Lakers retooled and bounced back in the 2019-20 season that saw them get back to the mountaintop. LA captured their first NBA title in a decade, while James has quickly secured his legacy with yet another franchise.
The star forward has also further extended his stay as he agreed to a two-year, $85 million extension to remain in LA through his 20th season in the 2022-23 campaign.
1. Anthony Davis – Five-year, $190 million
Since the Lakers pulled the trigger on the blockbuster trade to acquire Anthony Davis in the summer of 2019, there were lingering questions around his long-term future.
Davis downplayed the situation throughout the season, but the Lakers winning an NBA title with Davis and James essentially sealed his fate. The star forward extended that process through the offseason but ultimately signed the biggest deal in team history.
Davis has secured his long-term future in LA as the face of the franchise post-LeBron James. The 27-year-old may have many highly productive campaigns ahead as attempts to bring the Lakers more NBA titles.