One of the main priorities for the Los Angeles Lakers has been to determine LeBron James’ future this summer, with the four-time NBA champion becoming eligible for a two-year $97 million contract extension on Aug. 4.
In the lead-up to Thursday, signs pointed to a positive resolution of James’ contract situation. The 37-year-old was said to be “extremely happy” in L.A. despite the Purple and Gold’s struggles over the last two years.
Also, the Cleveland Cavaliers — with whom James could see himself reunite again, he had said in February — reportedly didn’t operate as if they planned for the four-time NBA champion’s comeback anytime soon.
While James can sign the deal as soon as it is offered from the Lakers, which likely came right when he was eligible, the 18-time All-Star will keep the Lakers faithful in suspense, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on SportsCenter that no deal is imminent at this time:
“I’m told nothing is imminent. As you mentioned, this extension window goes until June 30, so you can see LeBron’s camp wait to see how things play out with the Los Angeles Lakers roster leading up to training camp. Now, I think both parties would like to put this to bed before the 22-23 season begins because if they don’t, it will be a year-long distraction trying to figure out body language, trying to parce out the comments he makes after wins and losses to see if that can be a glance into his future. But there are a couple of things that are important to LeBron James at this stage of his career entering Year 20: adding to his four championship total and finding an opportunity to be able to play with his son Bronny, should Bronny make it into the NBA. So those will be the conversations that LeBron James’ camp and the Lakers have, what can we do to help you compete for championships, and could we be a landing spot for your son if he is eligible to make it into the NBA?”
Considering James can sign the extension any time between now and June 30, 2023, it makes sense that he would wait a bit before making his decision. Plus, that will put a little pressure on the Lakers’ front office to make some moves to further upgrade the roster, particularly trading away Russell Westbrook.
However, trade talks could drag on for weeks — as in the case of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving — as the Lakers are believed to be particularly reluctant to give up draft assets this year.
While James has been pushing for the Lakers to trade Westbrook for Irving so he can reunite with his former Cavaliers co-star, no deal will likely come to fruition until Kevin Durant’s situation is resolved which means it may be a while before LeBron puts pen to paper on an extension.
James works out with Phil Handy & sons at practice facility
As far as his game on the court goes, James remains as strong as ever going into the 20th season of his career.
He has been working hard getting prepared for the upcoming season, which includes a recent workout at the Lakers’ practice facility with Phil Handy and his sons Bronny and Bryce.
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