LeBron James is headed to Tinseltown, and leaked details of his new contract with the Los Angeles Lakers shows that he will have a chance to hit free agency again.
Less than a full day after free agency began, word leaked that LeBron would be signing with the Lakers on a four-year, $154 million deal. While the full details of the contract have not yet been released, Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports reported that there is an opt-out in the fourth year of the contract.
Lakers Nation also reported the year-by-year breakdown of the contract: $35.65 million in the first year, followed by $37.43 million, $39.21 million, and $41 million. He is not eligible for a no-trade clause, the report noted. As for the other details of his contract, those may have to wait until the dust settles.
Interestingly, LeBron opted to go to the Los Angeles Lakers over a number of other suitors — including the Philadelphia 76ers — even though he will net less pay in California. As Darren Rovell noted, LeBron will make around $11 million less as a member of the Lakers than he would with an identical contract on the Sixers, due to the higher income taxes in California.
There were likely a number of other factors at play for LeBron, including the potential to snag more endorsements being in the league’s marquee market in Los Angeles, and the fact that he maintains and offseason home in L.A., where his children already attend school. There had been rumors dating back more than a year that he planned to opt out of his contract with the Cavaliers and join the Lakers, though he never broached the topic publicly.
The Lakers also appeared to be preparing for years to make their run at LeBron, shedding cap space to be ready for the biggest free agent class in recent memory. It paid off, as LeBron accepted the max deal from the Lakers ahead of the three or four other teams considered to be in serious contention.
While LeBron James is still at his peak, he will be 37-years-old by the time the contract comes to a conclusion, so the window for a championship (or championships) in Los Angeles would be limited, likely ending the rebuilding phase of the team’s recent history and entering “win-now” phase for the entirety of LeBron’s contract. And the Lakers seem motivated to become an immediate title contender, signing a number of other key players after Lebron’s contract was announced, including Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee.