LeBron James has agreed to to sign a four year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers per Klutch Sports. James has agreed to join the Lakers, but cannot sign the contract until July 6 at the earliest. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported James will have a player option for his fourth year, meaning he can opt out of his deal after the third season.
The exact terms of the contract has not been disclosed, but James is expected to have a max salary each year. Here’s James’ projected salary numbers according to Spotrac.
|2021-22 (player option)||$41,002,273|
According to Spotrac, James made $33.2 million with the Cavaliers last season. James will start out with a little more than $2 million raise. The big thing to note is James agreeing to sign a long-term deal with the Lakers for at least three years, with the potential for a fourth year. This gives the Lakers time to build a roster around James without the pressure of worrying about James is eyeing green pastures.
James chose to reveal his decision in the simplest form possible. For James first jump into free agency, James announced he was signing with the Heat in an ESPN special called “The Decision.” When James decided to return to Cleveland, he did it through a heartfelt letter in Sports Illustrated. As James announced his intention to head to Los Angeles, his agency, Klutch Sports, released a one sentence press release.
The Ringer’s Paolo Uggetti detailed why James committing to the Lakers for four years is a major deal.
The deal reportedly has an opt-out after the third season, but the structure of the deal is surprising nonetheless—it’s the longest he’s signed since 2010. For the past three seasons with the Cavs, LeBron has worked only in two-year deals with player options after the first year, which allowed him to make the most money while also maintaining flexibility for his future. A four-year deal is telling. He wants to be in Los Angeles for the long run.
The move was telegraphed as far back as last season. The signs were there (the Brentwood houses, his son’s early basketball success), and yet, there was always the question: Would LeBron actually leave Cleveland again? In retrospect, there was no better option for his future. Los Angeles provided LeBron with not only a familiar landscape, but also a bevy of cap space for a second star. It’s also a team that boasts a young roster with plenty of assets to trade for a third star if need be. LeBron’s arrival is only the first domino; there is a lot more the Lakers have to do, but at least now, they have a clear objective: Surround the best player in the world with enough talent to take down the Warriors dynasty.
There have been conflicting reports on whether James has a player option for the fourth season. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported James does not have an opt-out in the new contract.