The Los Angeles Lakers did what they were supposed to do this off-season, they inked LeBron James to a contract extension.
Yet, the financial terms of LeBron’s new deal doesn’t seem to have gone down well with some members of the fanbase and media, with Fox Sports Skip Bayless sounding off, yet again, about how much LeBron is expected to make in the next two-to-three years. In fairness, Bayless comments come after LeBron secured another lucrative advertisement deal, further enhancing his almost limitless income from non-basketball activities.
“Another huge (and lucrative) national-TV ad for LeBron (with Lily) … yet he insisted on taking the max from the Lakers instead of (like Tim Duncan or Brady) giving his team more cap room to improve the supporting cast. I just don’t get it. Does he no longer want to win???” Bayless wrote on Twitter.
LeBron’s new contract is set to kick in next summer and is potentially worth $97 million over two seasons, with the second year – valued at $50 million – a player option. Bayless’ issue with LeBron’s new deal isn’t that the veteran superstar is undeserving, but rather, that he has enough income streams to have taken a more team-friendly deal so that the Lakers could have more room to operate in free agency and construct a contending team around him.
Bayless Point to Tim Duncan as an Example
When legendary power forward Tim Duncan’s career was entering its final few years, he opted to take lower-paid deals in order to provide the San Antonio Spurs with enough flexibility to fill their roster with elite-level depth.
Bayless has been steadfast in his belief that LeBron should follow a similar path to Duncan, and was even on record making this argument back in 2017, so at least he has been consistent in his criticism of the superstar.
“LeBron, why don’t you follow the Tim Duncan method?… Tim Duncan over his last three seasons with the Spurs made $10.3 million, $10.3 million, and in his last year, $6 million – by his choice. Tim Duncan, the great Tim Duncan, and an All-Time top-five player could have said ‘I have earned the right to make the max all the way home’…What if he had said ‘I’ll take $30 million per year for the last three years?’ What would it have done to the Spurs’ quality depth?” Bayless said in 2017.
Still, given LeBron’s status as one of the best basketball players in history, it makes no sense for him to leave money on the table, especially when the Lakers currently possess three genuine superstars in LeBron, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis – meaning they should be considered championship contenders every season this trio are together.
LeBron Continues to Defy The Aging Process
For most players in their late thirties, signing a max contract is unfathomable, yet LeBron isn’t most players, and he proved this last season as he continued to punish teams and put the NBA on notice.
In 56 regular-season games, LeBron averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists while shooting 35.9% from deep and 62% from two-point range – further establishing himself as a timeless veteran who could still slot into the starting lineup of any team in the league despite him closing in on his 38th birthday.
LeBron’s ability to defy the aging process, and continue to perform at an elite level, all but secured his ability to earn another big payday, as he’s not just a name that sells jerseys, he’s still one of the top-five players in the entire league who can help put you in position to win a championship – all the Lakers need to do, is putting a winning blend of talent around him on the court.