Will LeBron James Play Out Final $44M of Lakers Contract?

    • The Lakers’ short-term future was already looking uncertain.
    • Now, an early LeBron exit is becoming more conceivable by the day.

At All-Star weekend in Cleveland, LeBron James told reporters he wouldn’t rule out a return to the Cavs. The 37-year-old has also made it clear that he wants to finish out his career with his oldest son, Bronny. 

Plus, James’ representatives are reportedly unhappy that the team didn’t trade the struggling Russell Westbrook at the deadline.

The Lakers’ short-term future was already looking uncertain — and now, an early LeBron exit is becoming more conceivable by the day.

  • James is an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
  • His contract doesn’t include a no-trade clause, and he’s owed $44 million next year. 
  • With Westbrook ($47M) on the books for one more year, the Lakers have no draft capital to help sweeten a deal — NOLA has the rights to their picks over the next four years.
  • James is eligible for a two-year extension worth $97.1 million.

Despite spending $120.8 million on their superstar trio — which rises to $129 million next season — the Lakers are the 9-seed and four games below .500, and Anthony Davis is out at least four-to-six weeks with an ankle injury. 

If the Lakers can’t get it together, would they consider ripping off the band-aid sooner rather than later?

This weekend, LeBron raved about Thunder GM Sam Presti’s eye for talent on draft day. And there’s a very good chance OKC will have a lottery pick in 2024, when Bronny becomes draft-eligible. Just saying.