LeBron James is redefining what success means in the modern NBA – and not just on the court. Four-time champion, four-time league MVP and 18-time All-Star also became an all-time master in the business of basketball.
The latest proof of James’ dominance off the court is the contract extension he just signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. According to The Athletic, James has signed a two-year contract for a total of $97.1 million. The contract includes a third-year player option for the 2024-2025 season. Let’s break down what LeBron’s big deal means for the respective parties.
First of all, it’s worth mentioning how rare it is for any athlete to land this kind of deal at James’ age. Other players might have been better at their peak but precisely no one has performed at the level James has past the age of 35. LeBron is now earned a total of $387 million in his outstanding career.
Usually, keeping a top-5 talent at any point in their career is a win for a franchise. Unfortunately, this particular franchise has higher expectations than anyone else in the sport, and this move also made it more difficult for them to build a championship contender around James.
Although they won a title led by LeBron two years ago, there are now new obstacles to the elusive ring No. 18. This list includes a surprisingly resurgent dynasty of wars – winners of four of the last seven NBA Finals – plus new threats like Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who will likely surpass LeBron as the best non-center in the league soon, if he hasn’t already.
The biggest obstacle to their success is, of course, Russell Westbrook, who was supposed to be the missing third piece to complement James and superstar center Anthony Davis. However, Westbrook’s contract (he’s making $47.1 million this year) and his poor performance last season might just make him the NBA’s lowest value player.
Until Los Angeles finds a willing trade partner or Westbrook becomes a radically different kind of player, it’s hard to imagine them getting the supporting roles they need to break out of a stacked Western Conference.
The timing of James’ contract — especially the third-year player option — could reveal his future plans. James made it clear that he plans to play out the final season of his NBA career on the same team as his son, Brony. who is entering his senior year of high school. Brony won’t be eligible for the draft for another two years, so LeBron will have to wait a while. That 2024-25 option could give James the flexibility he needs to join whichever team lands the Bronies…
That sets up perhaps the most interesting offseason and draft in recent league history. Once Bronny is eligible, teams may be breaking even to get him — especially if it means they’ll be first in line to sign his father — even if he’ll be 40 by the end of the season.