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#pounditThursday, August 18, 2022

Lakers unlikely to get key commitment from LeBron James?

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are likely going to have to make their offseason moves without any clarity on LeBron James’ long-term commitment to the organization.

James is eligible to sign a contract extension with the Lakers in August, but he has given the organization no indication regarding whether he will sign it or not. That is unlikely to change, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Few within the league believe the Lakers will get any clarity on James’ long-term future before the team makes the bulk of its offseason moves in June and July.

This matters in how the Lakers construct their roster around James. If the organization has assurances that James is likely to stay beyond 2023, they may be more open to trading draft picks or taking on long-term salary if it means improving the supporting cast. In contrast, the Lakers would be less eager to take on salary beyond 2023 that they do not value if James would not be around to make it worthwhile.

James has been talking a lot about post-retirement plans lately, though there is no indication that he is anywhere near the end of his career. The 37-year-old seems more likely than not to be with the Lakers until at least 2024, but that’s far from a guarantee the organization can reliably build around.

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