Report: LeBron James signs below max deal to aid Lakers’ cap

July 9, 2024 - 2:05 PM
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Mar 19, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) waves to the crowed after becoming the second all time scoreing list NBA history during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

Lakers superstar LeBron James’ new two-year contract is roughly $2.7 million below the $104 million maximum he was eligible for, a move made to aid Los Angeles’ future roster construction, ESPN reported late Saturday night.

James, 39, signed a $101.35 million deal on Saturday that will include his 23rd season –the longest career in NBA history — and helps the Lakers avoid salary cap restrictions down the road.

This marks the second time James has taken a pay cut. Back in 2010, he signed a two-year, $68 million contract to join the Miami Heat. With the $15 million left over, the Heat formed a roster that won two NBA titles and made four straight trips to the NBA Finals.

By including a player option for the second season of his new Lakers deal, along with his veteran status, James will have a default no-trade clause playing back-to-back seasons on one-year guarantees.

Per the report, the Lakers will avoid the second apron by $45,000 with James’ salary, thus allowing the team to include its 2032 first-round pick in a deal next offseason. If they hadn’t avoided the second apron, the Lakers would’ve had that pick frozen from any trade possibilities for a salary cap violation.

“We’re now in the apron world,” Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said at second-round pick Bronny James’ introductory news conference earlier in the week. “We’ve seen contending teams or championship-level teams have to lose players. That’s a result of the apron world we’re living in. So, does it make trades more challenging? Yes. Does it make good trades impossible? No. So we’ll continue to pursue upgrades to our roster.”

READ: Bronny James (knee) to miss Lakers’ summer league game | Reports: Lakers sign LeBron James ($104M), Bronny James ($7.9M)

In another penalty regarding the second apron, if the Lakers went over $190 million in total roster compensation for next season, they wouldn’t be able to make deals that bring back more salary than they send out.

—Field Level Media