After He Opted Out Of A $51.4 Million Contract, What's LeBron James's Next Move?

By on July 2, 2024 in ArticlesSports News

This is often a tense time of year for NBA teams. We're in the period between the NBA Draft and the start of free agency. There are a few days where teams technically can't negotiate, and then about a week where they can, and come July 6, they can officially sign with a team, whether it's their current squad or a new one. This is also the time when guys who have player options choose to either play their final year or opt out of their contracts. Paul George informed the Los Angeles Clippers he'd be opting out of his $48.7 million contract for next season, and LeBron James did the same with the Los Angeles Lakers, opting out of his $51.4 million deal.

Early reports seem to indicate George is on his way to another team, with the Philadelphia 76ers being the frontrunner. We'll keep an eye on his movements, but for now, let's focus on LeBron. The Lakers used the No. 55 draft pick on his son, Bronny James. If you've paid attention to the college and foreign basketball scene, you'd know Bronny James was not a top 58 (the number of picks in this draft) or even a top 100 player this past season.

But when your dad is arguably the greatest player of all time, you can get your foot in doors that aren't open to everybody. Now, the question is what the elder James plans to do.

Harry How/Getty Images

It seems like James is set on staying with the Lakers and at least getting the opportunity to play with his son. They would be the first father-son duo to ever take the court together. LeBron has accomplished plenty in the NBA, and while in Los Angeles, he set the all-time scoring record in 2023. Why not do something else historical in the City of Angels?

If James does return to the Lakers, he'll have a choice. He could either sign for a long-term deal to maximize his earnings, take a pay cut to allow the Lakers to strengthen the roster around him, or continue the "one-and-one" contracts he's signed in the later stages of his career. These deals are for two years, but the second is a player option. With the salary cap increasing quite a bit every year, James has ensured he's getting the highest amount possible each season.

Few players could bet on themselves with such regular success. James has avoided major injury while continuing to be a top player in the NBA, so he can dictate his contracts a bit more than just about everyone else in the league.

But with Bronny in tow, will LeBron go the pay-cut route instead? He turns 40 this season, and the Lakers, as constructed, are probably not good enough to win the championship. However, if James could lure a savvy veteran or two, the Lakers could be in business.

Whatever James decides to do, it's very likely we'll witness history this upcoming season. And that's never a bad thing.

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