Lakers
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Lakers Offseason 2020: LeBron James Signs 2 Year Extension

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The Los Angeles Lakers and superstar LeBron James have agreed to a two-year, $85 million contract extension according to Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group.

 

Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Credit: Newsweek

This extension will take James through the 2022-23 season, giving him 20 seasons in the NBA. He played 11 seasons in Cleveland over two stints, four with the Miami Heat, and will play at least five in L.A. James, who turns 36 later this month, averaged 25.3 points last season and led the NBA in assists with 10.2 per game.

James was named the 2020 NBA Finals MVP after leading the Lakers past the Heat in six games. He became the first player in NBA history to win the award with three franchises. He also was Finals MVP with the Heat in 2012 and 2013 and with the Cavaliers in 2016.

James, currently number 3 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 34,241 points, is 4,146 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the number 1 spot. If he were to average 25 points and play a majority of games the next two seasons, James would be in a position to take Abdul-Jabbar’s place at the top while wearing a Lakers uniform in 2022-23.

James also ranks number 8 on the all-time assists list, number 13 in all-time steals, number 15 in all-time 3-pointers made, and number 48 in all-time rebounds.

 

The deal is a strong indicator that The King is committed to Los Angeles for the long haul.

 

Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Credit: Flipboard

Given the favorable conditions and productive relationships he has in Los Angeles, James was positioned to favor long-term financial security over short-term leverage as he continues to chase Michael Jordan’s six rings. While there was little discussion about James signing an extension in recent weeks, the deal secures a slight pay raise for the 2021-22 season and adds an extra year of protection against injury or age-related decline. The extension would carry James past his 38th birthday and allow him to enter free agency in 2023. James has said that it’s his dream to play with his son Bronny, a top-ranked prospect who is set to graduate from high school in 2023.

From the Lakers’ perspective, locking James into an extension was a no-brainer twice over: They firmed up their connection with the league’s biggest star and removed any uncertainty in their pitch to Davis. After seven up-and-down seasons in New Orleans, the 27-year-old forward made a smooth transition to Los Angeles and was sensational in the playoffs en route to his first title. Davis now knows that his mutually beneficial partnership with James will continue for the foreseeable future.

By being proactive in retooling their roster, the Lakers emerged as major winners of the NBA’s free agency period. The arrivals of Dennis Schroder, Montrez Harrell, and Marc Gasol, among others, have strengthened Los Angeles’ position as the early title favorites, and James’s extension removes the possibility of distracting free agency rumors in the months ahead.

We can [repeat],” James said Tuesday in an interview on Spectrum SportsNet. “It’s that simple.

 

What does this mean for Anthony Davis’ extension?

 

Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Credit: Lake Show Life

There had been rumors that Davis would sign a 1+1 deal so that he could time his free agency with that of James, but that is no longer the case. There were also rumors that Davis and James would opt out next season to create room for the Lakers to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo.

With James’ max extension in place, the Lakers will not have room to keep Davis and sign Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021, so this seemingly suggests that the Lakers have removed themselves from the Giannis sweepstakes.

However,  Davis was more willing to sign a longer deal to remain with the Lakers now that his running mate James is under contract for another three seasons. On Thursday the Lakers signed Davis to a 4+1 deal for a total of $190 million.

 

Even after winning a championship, the Los Angeles Lakers have had arguably the most successful offseason of any team, adding more younger talent to their roster in hopes of repeating in 2021. By keeping LeBron James locked in Purple and Gold for the near future, the Lakers are making it known that they are back in the business of winning titles and being the standard of NBA organizations.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe Arrigo on Twitter @JoeArrigo

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