Nothing went right for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Despite being among the favorites to win the championship, the team went 33-49 and didn’t get close to making the playoffs. With a season this disastrous, the future for the Lakers is murky, to say the least. The player at the center of the team’s future is LeBron James.
The four-time MVP has been excellent for the team since joining them in 2018 but has only been consistently healthy for one of those four seasons. The season that he stayed healthy, the team won a championship. LeBron will be entering Year 20 and he’s finally showing signs of mortality. This offseason, the Lakers are eligible to give him a contract extension. If the two sides don’t agree on a deal, things will get interesting.
During his exit interview for the season, LeBron gave some insight into the situation. He noted that his agent Rich Paul and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka actually can’t discuss the contract yet due to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. He’ll be eligible for an extension on August 4, 2022, per HoopsHype.
“Myself and Rich [Paul] can’t even begin to talk to Rob [Pelinka] and the front office because of the collective bargaining agreement,” LeBron said, via Mark Medina. “When we get to that point, we’ll see.”
It’s difficult to get a read on what LeBron’s planning based on that quote but signs point to him sticking in Los Angeles.
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LeBron Wants to Win Another Championship With Lakers
LeBron’s first season with the Lakers was rocky as the team missed the playoffs. The following year, the team traded for Anthony Davis and Los Angeles looked elite again. The team finished as the top seed in the Western Conference and dominated their way to another championship – going 16-5 in the playoffs. When LeBron came to Los Angeles, many claimed that it was for his off-the-court interest. He proved that wasn’t the case with the championship win and doesn’t believe that he’s done yet.
“I came here to win a championship but I want to win more … I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish … but I want to do it again,” LeBron said, via Dave McMenamin.
That doesn’t necessarily sound like a player that’s looking to leave but nothing can be ruled out after a season that was so disappointing.
Will LeBron Sign an Extension?
When the Lakers made trades for Russell Westbrook and Davis, they mortgaged their future to win now. That didn’t work out this season but the team is stuck. They could explore trading LeBron and just start over but that’s unlikely. He’s been injured the last two seasons and is getting older so they might not get a fair return for him.
For LeBron, he’ll be turning 38 during this upcoming season. Considering he’s been injured, he would be wise to sign an extension that secures max money for at least two more additional seasons. He could try to chase a couple more rings if he doesn’t believe in the Lakers going forward but it’s more likely he stays put until his son Bronny enters the NBA.