The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

LeBron James reaffirms commitment to Lakers with two-year extension

LeBron James has agreed to a two-year max extension with the Lakers. (Ashley Landis/AP)

For once, a decision made by LeBron James proved anticlimactic.

The Los Angeles Lakers agreed to sign James on Wednesday to a two-year maximum contract extension worth at least $97 million, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. ESPN first reported the deal, which runs through the 2023-24 season and includes a player option for 2024-2025.

James, 37, averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, earning all-star and all-NBA third team honors despite being limited to 56 appearances by a number of minor injuries.

The four-time MVP’s recommitment to the Lakers comes after a disappointing 33-win campaign that led to the firing of Frank Vogel and the hiring of Darvin Ham as his coaching replacement. During All-Star Weekend in February, James flirted with the idea of returning to his home state of Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but has remained mum all summer about the possibility of eventually leaving Los Angeles, where his family has lived since 2019.

The agreement secures James’s future with the Lakers until the summer of 2024, when his 17-year-old son, Bronny, will become draft eligible. James has repeatedly expressed a desire to play alongside Bronny, his eldest son, in the NBA. Meanwhile, the contract will align James with teammate Anthony Davis, who can also become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Though James waited nearly two weeks after he first became extension-eligible Aug. 4, he still agreed to re-sign despite an underwhelming offseason that has included lingering questions about Russell Westbrook’s fit and future with the Lakers. After reaching the NBA Finals every season from 2011 to 2018, James has missed the playoffs twice during his four-year Lakers tenure, which was highlighted by his fourth title and fourth Finals MVP award in 2020.

James’s ability to command a full max contract — which will pay him more than $44 million this season — will impact the Lakers’ salary cap flexibility next summer. Even if Westbrook departs, Los Angeles will be paying James and Davis more than $86 million combined in 2023-24, a figure that could complicate their hopes of adding a third star or filling out a championship-caliber supporting cast.

Upon the completion of this extension, James will have earned more than $500 million in player contracts during an NBA career that began in 2003. If he picks up his option for the 2024-25 season, this extension will carry him past his 40th birthday in December 2024.

Sign up for our weekly NBA newsletter to get the best basketball coverage in your inbox