Lakers star LeBron James is expected to opt out of the final year of his current contract with the Los Angeles Lakers to become an unrestricted free agent. Now, this might not be earth-shattering news, but according to Dan Woike of The LA Times, the move grants James two significant advantages: the ability to sign with any team and the eligibility to receive a no-trade clause due to his tenure with the Lakers and his overall NBA career length.


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Opting out may slightly reduce his potential earnings on a new contract with the Lakers compared to extending his current deal. As a free agent, a three-year max contract would be worth about $162 million, starting at a max salary of 5% above his previous $47.6 million salary and including 8% raises in subsequent years. In contrast, opting in and extending would result in over $164 million, starting from his $51.4 million player option figure.

If unfamiliar, the Over-38 Rule limits James to a maximum three-year contract. Despite the minor financial difference, the security of a no-trade clause might be more valuable to him. Historically, James has preferred short-term deals to maximize flexibility and take advantage of the rising salary cap, which is expected to increase by a maximum of 10% annually starting next offseason.

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Don’t get too excited about King James donning another uniform to end his career. Remaining with the Lakers is anticipated; other teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, and Oklahoma City Thunder might show interest. Sign-and-trade or opt-in and trade scenarios are also possible, with a decision deadline of June 29.

ICYMI, the Lakers, having hired James’ podcast co-host JJ Redick as head coach and expected to draft his son Bronny, are favored to retain him. However, James’ free agency will allow him to explore all potential opportunities before deciding.

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