LeBron lands 2-year, $97.1M deal with Lakers

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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension that includes a player option for the 2024-25 season, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul told ESPN on Wednesday.

The extension, which includes a 15% trade kicker, makes James the highest-earning player in NBA history with $532 million in career guaranteed money, surpassing Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant.

James is ineligible for a no-trade clause because he agreed on an extension — not a new deal. But the new contract’s starting salary of $46.7 million, the 15% trade kicker and James’ stature as one of history’s great players likely make him a Laker for as long as he chooses.

James had been entering the final season of his contract (worth $44.5 million) and now joins All-Star Anthony Davis with the ability to negotiate new deals with the Lakers or become free agents in two seasons.

With the deal, the four-time NBA champion and MVP and 18-time All-Star eliminates concern that he could enter free agency next summer. Despite approaching 38 years old, James remains an All-NBA-level player and the centerpiece of the Lakers’ contention hopes.

James is ineligible to be traded during the upcoming 2022-23 season because the second year of his extension exceeds a 5% raise.

The Lakers could have north of $20 million in salary-cap space in the 2023 offseason and would have the ability to sign a third max contract player in the 2024 offseason. The player options increase salary-cap space if players decline them, and yet remain on new deals.

James, who turns 38 on Dec. 30, is limited to signing a two-year extension because he will be 38 or older when his current deal expires, a rule in the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

James’ eldest son, Bronny, is entering his senior year of high school, making him NBA draft-eligible in 2024. James has repeatedly stated his desire to team up with his son on an NBA roster before he retires.

The Lakers missed the playoffs in 2022, despite James averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Injuries limited James to 56 games.

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