Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension that includes a player option for the 2024-25 season, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul told ESPN on Wednesday.
The extension, which includes a 15% trade kicker, makes James the highest-earning player in NBA history with $532 million in career guaranteed money, surpassing Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant.
James is ineligible for a no-trade clause because he agreed on an extension — not a new deal. But the new contract’s starting salary of $46.7 million, the 15% trade kicker and James’ stature as one of history’s great players likely make him a Laker for as long as he chooses.
James had been entering the final season of his contract (worth $44.5 million) and now joins All-Star Anthony Davis with the ability to negotiate new deals with the Lakers or become free agents in two seasons.
With the deal, the four-time NBA champion and MVP and 18-time All-Star eliminates concern that he could enter free agency next summer. Despite approaching 38 years old, James remains an All-NBA-level player and the centerpiece of the Lakers’ contention hopes.
James is ineligible to be traded during the upcoming 2022-23 season because the second year of his extension exceeds a 5% raise.
The Lakers could have north of $20 million in salary-cap space in the 2023 offseason and would have the ability to sign a third max contract player in the 2024 offseason. The player options increase salary-cap space if players decline them, and yet remain on new deals.
James, who turns 38 on Dec. 30, is limited to signing a two-year extension because he will be 38 or older when his current deal expires, a rule in the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
The Lakers missed the playoffs in 2022, despite James averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Injuries limited James to 56 games.