LeBron James Declines Player Option: What’s Next For Lakers?

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Rumors
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After the Los Angeles Lakers hired JJ Redick and drafted Bronny James, they appear to be in prime position to retain LeBron James ahead of NBA free agency.

According to ESPN, James opted out of his final year player option worth $51.4 million contract with the Lakers to negotiate a new agreement with the team. He informed the Lakers of his decision before Saturday’s 5 p.m. Eastern deadline.

James averaged 25.7 points, 8.3 assists, and 7.3 rebounds last season. He shot 54% from the field and a career-high 41% from the perimeter. He remains an elite player despite playing at 39, showing little signs of decline.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Updates

The Lakers seek to retain James and are prepared to offer him a maximum three-year contract worth up to $162 million. However, James is willing to take less money to free up the $12.9 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception for the team to leverage, but he will likely sign a max deal if they cannot use it to add impactful talent.

Anthony Davis is patient with James as he sorts through his contract decision this offseason, trying not to get involved. They have a short period before joining USA Basketball for training camp in preparation for the Paris Olympics this summer.

“I’m giving him the space he needs,” Davis told ESPN. “We’ll be together throughout the summer, and I know that if he decides on any course of action — whether it’s staying with the Lakers, opting in, opting out and re-signing, or opting out and exploring other opportunities — he’ll let me know before making any official decision because of our close relationship.”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Updates

The Lakers have a limited window to contend for a title with James. It remains to be seen if the current roster, which has largely remained the same, will be enough for them to go from nearly being swept in the first round by the Denver Nuggets to being a legitimate threat.

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