LeBron James’ future with the Los Angeles Lakers continues to be the focus of NBA rumors with the superstar eligible to sign a contract extension this offseason. Without an extension, James can become a free agent in 2023 after playing out the final season of his current deal with the Lakers.
ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst has followed James dating back to his high school days. Despite some of the star’s public comments, James wants to be with the Lakers for the foreseeable future, per Windhorst.
“But I think there’s two things I have to say that are very important here,” Windhorst noted during a May 5, 2022 episode of “First Take.” “The first is that LeBron wants to be a Laker. Regardless of what he may have said in moments of frustration last year and regardless of his concept of playing with his son or someday retiring a Cavalier or whatever. LeBron wants to be a Laker. He wants to live in Los Angeles. He loves living in Los Angeles, his son Bronny is a senior at Sierra Canyon in the Valley this year. He wants to be able to take part and enjoy his senior season. He still believes he can take the Lakers to heights. He wants to be a Laker.
“The second thing is that while it would be fun and is fun and we would probably have these conversations now or later, to talk about what team could want to trade for LeBron, LeBron isn’t getting traded to a team unless LeBron deems it so.”
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Will LeBron Sign a Contract Extension?
Just because James wants to continue to play for the Lakers does not mean the superstar will sign a contract extension this offseason. James could still opt to play out the final year of his current deal putting ultimate pressure on the Lakers front office to once again create a championship-contending roster. James used this same philosophy during his time with the Cavaliers choosing to give a year-by-year commitment to the franchise.
Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported on April 19 that “sources at Klutch Sports insist those internal discussions on James’ future haven’t taken place yet.” According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, James is considering not signing an extension which would make him a free agent in 2023.
“Based on my conversations with people who have a strong sense of such things, it’s clear James is considering playing out this contract rather than signing a two-year extension this summer,” Amick wrote on April 12. “If flexibility and freedom are the goals here, James (who is owed $44.4 million next season) could go back to the year-by-year approach he perfected in his second Cleveland stop.”
The Lakers Do Not Plan to Trade LeBron: Report
Despite ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and others speculating about the Lakers trading James, there are no signs that Los Angeles will explore potential deals, even if no extension is signed. Amick reported that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss will allow James to take a year-by-year approach if he so chooses rather than trade the NBA legend.
“If LeBron James ultimately decides against signing an extension with the Lakers in August, sources say Buss wouldn’t see his desire to play out the final season of his contract as a reason to consider trading him,” Amick explained on May 5. “Without an extension, James’ current deal will expire after next season (in which he’s owed $47.1 million).
“It’s a natural question to ask in these sorts of situations, as the notion of James leaving the Lakers empty-handed by signing elsewhere in the summer of 2023 would be less than ideal. Still, all signs point to the year-by-year approach being considered acceptable by the Lakers — so long as the relationship with James is still in a good place.”