According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million extension that includes a player option for the 2024-25 season. The extension, which has a 15% trade kicker, makes James the highest-earning player in NBA history with $532 million in guaranteed money, surpassing Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant.
James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 52.4% from the field, 35.9% from beyond the arc and 75.6% from the free-throw line in 2021-22. However, the Lakers went only 33-49 and didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament.
James Is ‘Extremely Happy’ in Los Angeles
Despite the Lakers’ disastrous 2021-22 season, James is reportedly “extremely happy” in Los Angeles, according to a July 29 report from NBA insider Marc Stein. Both of James’ sons play basketball at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles. Bronny James will be a senior in high school this year, while Bryce James will be a sophomore. James’ wife and daughter also enjoy living in LA.
“Sources briefed on the matter stress that James is extremely happy in Los Angeles despite the Lakers’ back-to-back rocky seasons,” Stein reported. “He and his family, by all accounts, have grown increasingly entrenched in Southern California since James signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2018.”
James was ineligible for a no-trade clause because he agreed to an extension. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP was limited to signing a two-year extension since he will be 38 or older when his current deal expires, a rule in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
James Is Ready for Next Season
James, the only player in NBA history to rank top 10 all-time in points and assists, is looking forward to next season. The All-Star swingman posted a picture of himself yelling and flexing on his Instagram story in June with the caption, “Yeah I know I’m a lunatic to the grind!”
The King also published a second story on a black screen with the caption, “MAN I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE FALL! SO READY TO GET BACK OUT THERE! SO MOTIVATED.”
James signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2018. LA missed the playoffs in 2018-19, won the championship in 2019-20, lost in the first round of the 2021 postseason and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament last season. James has played in 223 out of a possible 307 regular-season games since joining the Lakers, averaging 27.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists.
According to a July 29 report from Stein, James wants the Lakers to trade for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Stein also reported that Russell Westbrook is aware of James’ desire to play with Irving, who won the 2016 championship with LeBron on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“As it stands, barring a trade to ship out Westbrook suddenly coalescing after weeks of fruitless talks, (Darvin) Ham is going to have to coach Westbrook, which is bound to be challenging in the extreme given that Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers have been trying hard to move him,” Stein reported. “And that James badly wants Irving to take his place.”
James and Westbrook didn’t sit next to each other or say hello during the Lakers’ Summer League game on July 8 in Las Vegas. James sat on the south baseline, while Westbrook positioned himself on the opposing sideline.
Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reported on July 15 that “several people within the Lakers organization acknowledged it was an awkward and tense moment between its two most high-profile superstars.”
James played in the Drew League on July 16 and finished with 42 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and three assists.