July 19, 2024

LeBron James intends to opt out of Lakers deal, expected to return on new contract: Sources

Los Angeles Lakers four-time champion LeBron James intends to opt out of his $51.4 million player option for next season, league sources told The Athletic on Saturday. The expectation is James will return to the Lakers on a new deal.

The max the Lakers could offer him as a free agent is three years and $160 million based on current cap guidance. The other option to guarantee James’ return to the Lakers would have been for him to opt into his $51.4 million deal for next season and then sign an extension in late August.

James, who turns 40 on Dec. 30, had until 5 p.m. ET Saturday to decide whether to opt into his player option for 2024-25.

The Athletic previously reported the Lakers wanted James to return, were open to offering him a maximum extension and were willing to draft his son Bronny this year. That happened Thursday when the Lakers selected Bronny with the 55th overall pick in the NBA Draft, capping a year of questions surrounding the 19-year-old guard’s future in the game.



Why the Lakers set out to make history by drafting Bronny James at No. 55

James has long expressed a desire to play with Bronny in the pros, famously telling The Athletic in 2022: “My last year (in the NBA) will be played with my son.” The superstar forward modified that sentiment in 2023, telling ESPN his goal would also be realized playing with Bronny “either in the same uniform or (in) a matchup against him.”

In his six years as a Laker, James has averaged 27.0 points per game in the regular season and accumulated 9,436 of his more than NBA-record 40,474 career regular-season points. In his four postseason trips with Los Angeles, he’s averaged 26.1 points per game and helped lead the Lakers to an NBA title in 2020.

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(Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)