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#pounditFriday, July 12, 2024

New detail surfaces about LeBron James’ contract with Lakers

LeBron James in a purple Lakers sweater

Dec 9, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) warms-up prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzles at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Lakers last week that was initially reported to be a maximum deal, but it turns out the four-time MVP took slightly less than that.

James signed a two-year deal with a player option for the second year. A max contract would have been $104 million, but Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Saturday night that LeBron’s new deal is worth $101.355 million. By taking slightly less, James allowed the Lakers to remain below the second luxury tax apron.

LeBron also has a no-trade clause and 15 percent trade kicker.

By accepting nearly $3 million less than the max, James has helped pave the way for the Lakers to use the $5.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception if they can unload some of their players on veteran minimum contracts. L.A. would have been over the $188.9 million second apron if they had to give LeBron a full max deal.

There are several restrictions for teams above the second apron, including the inability to trade certain future draft picks. Teams above the second apron also lose the midlevel exception and have to match 100 percent of salaries in trades.

The big question now is whether the Lakers will take advantage of the flexibility. Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic report that Gary Trent Jr. and Spencer Dinwiddie are two veteran players to watch if L.A. can clear the necessary space to use the full midlevel exception.

The Lakers have already missed out on some of their top offseason targets. There are also doubts that they will be able to add an impact player, but LeBron has given them a little extra flexibility to improve.

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