Family at heart of decision for LeBron on Lakers’ contract extension

LeBron James has been within the media highlight since he was a highschool junior and on the quilt of Sports Illustrated as “The Chosen One.” He’s develop into snug in that glare and a grasp message sender — he choreographs all the pieces he says, each Instagram submit, in order that the picture and message he desires are projected to the world. Nothing is an accident.

The day earlier than the Lakers might — and later on Thursday will — supply him a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension that may preserve him in purple and gold via age 40, what was the message LeBron despatched? He labored out together with his sons Bronny and Bryce at the Lakers’ apply facility.

The submit is one other in an extended line this summer time highlighting how a lot household means to LeBron, and this exhibits how entrenched in Los Angles he and his household at the moment are.

Family seems to be the most important consider LeBron James’ decision to signal an extension with the Lakers, one thing he can formally do immediately (Thursday, Aug. 4).

LeBron has an extended historical past of utilizing short-term contracts to leverage what he desires out of a corporation, and these Lakers, as constructed, will not be title contenders. The Russell Westbrook commerce state of affairs looms over the workforce, as do questions on whether or not they may use each of their tradable first-round picks — 2027 and 2029, the final picks they will commerce this decade — to make vital roster modifications.

That’s all enterprise. Ultimately for LeBron, household is first — and his household is snug in Los Angeles.

That is why most individuals NBC Sports has spoken with across the league anticipate LeBron to signal the extension in some type. Eventually. He might nicely milk the leverage to ship a message about roster modifications — though it isn’t like Rob Pelinka and firm haven’t tried to commerce Westbrook — however ultimately, LeBron doesn’t give off the vibe of a man seeking to bolt Los Angeles.

At least till his son Bronny turns into NBA draft eligible in two years. LeBron has made it clear he desires to play a season together with his son. It is the one factor everybody believes he would go away Los Angeles to do. Maybe the Lakers would use their 2024 first-round decide to pick Bronny and preserve the household understanding at their apply facility, besides the Lakers do not management that decide. The Pelicans do from the Anthony Davis commerce. As Joe Varden laid out nicely at The Athletic this week, the Pelicans have the choice of utilizing that 2024 decide or deferring to 2025 and letting the Lakers choose in 2024. It’s clearly far too early for anybody to make that decision. (Also, how good an NBA prospect Bronny is stays in query, lots of scouts do not have him within the first spherical if drafted at all. But if choosing Bronny additionally will get a workforce the large field workplace that’s LeBron for a season , the calculus modifications.)

LeBron has three choices with the Lakers’ extension supply:

1) Ignore it, do not signal it, and develop into a free agent subsequent summer time.
2) Sign it for the total two years and lock himself in with the Lakers till age 40.
3) Sign for one extra yr, or one yr with a participant choice for the second yr (a 1+1).

Option 3 retains LeBron settled in Los Angeles however with flexibility if and when Bronny enters the NBA in one other market. Most sources NBC spoke with anticipated LeBron will go along with choice three — a 1+1 — however that he might take his time signing it. There is not any rush. And if that retains the strain on the Lakers to improve the roster, all the higher.

If LeBron takes his time with the extension, hypothesis will run rampant on social media. Welcome to the trendy NBA. Talk of a LeBron return to Cleveland will develop. But LeBron will preserve his eye targeted on what issues to him. And that’s household.

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