LeBron officially re-signs with Lakers for less than max contract – Orange County Register

LeBron James officially re-signed with the Lakers on Saturday on a two-year, $101.35 million contract – around a $2.6 million discount that’ll keep the franchise below the second-apron threshold entering the 2024-25 season.

The deal, which was first reported by The Athletic, will include a player option for the 2025-26 season and a no-trade clause.

The deal pays James a $48.73 million salary in 2024-25, which is $1.26 million less than the $49.99 million max salary James could’ve been paid this upcoming season. His 2025-26 projected salary of $52.62 million is $1.36 million less than the $53.99 million he could’ve signed for.

He could have signed a three-year deal for approximately $162 million but will return to the Lakers on what’s essentially a one-plus-one contract after opting out of his $51.4 million player option at the end of June.

James, who’s entering his 22nd NBA season and seventh with the Lakers, will have the option to evaluate his future, as well as the Lakers’ next offseason,  ahead of what would be an unprecedented 23rd NBA season.

The Lakers were projected to be about $1.2 million over the second apron threshold if James re-signed to his max salary, but his paycut kept the Lakers under the $188.9 million second apron threshold by $45,000, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Teams over the second apron are severely limited in their roster-building options, including but not limited to not being able to aggregate contracts in a trade being sent out; and having their first-round draft pick eight years in the future (2032) frozen if they finish the season over the second apron.

James signed his new deal with the Lakers before Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas in preparation for this summer’s Paris Olympics.

James, who will turn 40 in December, continued to raise the bar in his 21st NBA season, averaging 25.7 points, 8.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds in 71 games with the Lakers in 2023-24, shooting 54% from the field and 41% on 3-pointers, his record 20th consecutive season averaging at least 25 points.

His 3-point accuracy was a career high while his shooting percentage was his best in six seasons as a Laker.

James became the first player in league history to eclipse 40,000 career points on March 2 against the Denver Nuggets and extended his NBA-record double-digit scoring streak to 1,222 consecutive regular-season games.

James was reportedly willing to take a significant pay cut so the Lakers have the financial flexibility to add a significant player with the full non-taxpayer midlevel exception – which is $12.82 million – but that didn’t come to fruition.

The Lakers have 15 players signed to standard NBA contracts, the maximum a team can have once the regular season starts. The franchise also re-signed Max Christie on Saturday.

The free agency moratorium, a period in which teams may not sign most free agents or make trades, ended at 9:01 a.m. Saturday.

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