Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss Sounds Off About LeBron James’ Extension

Lakers star LeBron James hugs owner Jeanie Buss

Getty Lakers star LeBron James hugs owner Jeanie Buss

LeBron James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers on August 18th and his boss is ecstatic about it.

Lakers controlling governor Jeanie Buss spoke to Sam Amick of The Athletic on August 30th and the 60-year-old talked about James’ enormous extension.

“It is a big vote of confidence when LeBron James signs a two-year extension, when he had many months to do so (he had until June 30, 2023, to sign this deal),” Buss said. “And you know, it was a priority to us. It’s a priority to the Laker brand that he retire a Laker. We’ll probably enjoy watching him as he approaches becoming the all-time leading scorer in history. And Episode 4 … shows the celebration that we had when Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) became the all-time leading scorer, and (late Lakers broadcaster) Chick Hearn even says, ‘A record that we’ll never see broken.’ And I honestly believed that that was going to be the case, that nobody would ever touch Kareem’s record.

“So there’s, I think, a lot of things to look forward to in this upcoming season. But I’m not going to go on record and say we’re gonna finish first or second or third, fourth. I’m just — I’m optimistic and believe that this is always a work in progress. And you’ve got to make changes as needed.”

James’ extension has a 15% trade kicker and made the four-time MVP the highest-earning player in NBA history with $532 million in guaranteed money, surpassing Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. James, who turns 38 in December, was ineligible for a no-trade clause since he agreed to an extension.

A four-time Finals MVP, James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season in 56 games. However, the Lakers went only 33-49 despite having James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

Buss on LeBron: ‘He Showed His Faith in Us by Signing That Extension’

James’ extension includes a player option for the 2024-25 season. The four-time champion, along with his agent (Rich Paul of Klutch Sports), had a meeting with Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka in late February to discuss their future together. James, Paul, Buss and Pelinka met again this offseason and an extension was agreed upon.

“He felt that what he heard (in that February meeting) was what he wanted to hear and made him feel confident going forward and I couldn’t be more happy that he sees that we want to win just as much as he does and that there’s a lot of great things that are going to happen while he’s a Laker,” Buss said. “Whatever our private conversations are, he showed his faith in us by signing that extension.”

James has played in 223 out of a possible 307 regular-season games since joining the Lakers in 2018, averaging 27.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists. The 18-time All-Star led the purple and gold to their 17th championship in franchise history in 2020. James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists in the 2020 Finals against the Miami Heat, taking home his fourth Finals MVP.

James Is ‘Extremely Happy’ in Los Angeles

Since winning the championship in 2020, the Lakers have lost in the first round of the playoffs and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament. However, James is reportedly “extremely happy” in Los Angeles, according to a July 29th report from NBA insider Marc Stein.

“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.”

Both of James’ sons play basketball at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles. Bronny will be a senior in high school this year, while Bryce will be a sophomore. James’ wife — Savannah — and daughter — Zhuri — also relish living in LA.

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