Star striker james lebron is now officially eligible to sign a veteran contract extension with the Lakers.
James last signed an extension with the Lakers on December 3, 2020, adding two years to the one remaining on his contract at the time. This contract will expire at the end of the 2022/23 season.
Typically, a player who signs an extension that keeps him under contract for three or four seasons (taking into account both his current contract and his extension) becomes eligible for the extension again two years after his signing date. However, James’ eligibility window opens on August 4 instead of December 3 due to the unusual nature of the 2020 schedule, which was impacted by COVID-19 – as free agency only opened in November of that year, the NBA considers August 4, 2022 the equivalent of that offseason of December 3, 2020.
James earns $44,474,988 in 2022/23, which exceeds the standard maximum of $43,279,250 for a player with 10+ years of NBA experience. This means he is eligible to sign an extension that either gives him a 5% increase over this season’s salary or is worth next season’s maximum, whichever is greater. Currently, next season’s maximum is expected to be $46,550,000, while a 5% raise would put LeBron in line for a starting salary of $46,698,737.
Because he’s already 37, James’ ability to sign a long-term extension is affected by the over-38 rule, which we explain in detail in our glossary entry. This bars him from playing on a contract longer than three years (including his current contract), which limits the length of a potential extension to two years. Assuming a starting salary of $46,698,737, LeBron’s two-year maximum extension would be worth $97,133,373 – year two (2024/25) could be a player option.
Although James is now eligible for the extension, there is probably no urgency from his point of view to strike a deal immediately. He has until June 30, 2023 to sign an extension, and could sign a similar contract with the Lakers if he opts for free agency next year (in this scenario, he could even add a third year for 2025/ 26, since the 22/23 season would no longer count against the three-year limit created by the over-38 rule).
While the Lakers would certainly prefer to lock LeBron on a new deal sooner rather than later, the four-time MVP can retain leverage and perhaps exert more influence over team roster moves by delaying that commitment. Going this route would also give James a chance to assess additions to the squad roster as well as the new head coach. Darvin Ham during the 2022/23 season.
As ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider Link) writes, the Lakers’ potential capacity for 2023 won’t really be affected by whether or not James signs an extension, since his free agent cap would be essentially equivalent to his starting salary on a new contract. . Either way, Los Angeles plans to have more than $20 million indoors, which would open up some options for the team but wouldn’t be enough for another top-salary player.
Of course, if the Lakers lose James, they’ll open up a lot more cap space next summer, but that’s not what the team wants, and there’s no indication James is looking to leave LA – report Recent reported that LeBron is happy in Southern California and that his family has “become more established there” in recent years.
Still, rumors swirl around the four-time champion and the Lakers as long as he remains unsigned beyond the 2022/23 season. There has been speculation, for example, about the possibility of another reunion between James and the Cavaliers if he reaches free agency next summer.
According to Marks, if James signs a two-year, $97 million+ extension with the Lakers, it would boost his career salary earnings to $532 million, which would be the most on record for an NBA player.