It has been an eventful week for the Lakers, who have agreed to new deals with both of their two superstars — LeBron James is signing through 2023, while Anthony Davis will be under contract through at least 2024.
In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton explores what those two new contracts mean for the Lakers’ long-term future, observing that Rob Pelinka and the front office can now focus on how to fill out the roster around the team’s two stars in the coming years. While the Lakers’ 2020/21 roster is set, only two players besides James and Davis (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marc Gasol) have guaranteed contracts beyond this season.
With little to no projected cap room for 2021 and beyond, the Lakers will likely prioritize re-signing their own free agents next year rather than shaking up the roster too significantly, Pelton writes. Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso, and Kyle Kuzma are among the younger players who will be up for new deals in 2021.
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- In his look at LeBron’s extension, Bill Oram of The Athletic suggests that comparisons to the two-year, $48MM deal Kobe Bryant signed with the Lakers at age 35 are misplaced. Oram says Kobe’s extension was a “gift” to Bryant, who was coming off a torn Achilles at the time. James’ extension comes after he finished second in MVP voting and was named Finals MVP in 2020.
- Kyle Kuzma said today that his agent and the Lakers have talked about a contract extension, but he declined to offer any additional specifics (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). “We’ll see,” Kuzma said. As Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (via Twitter), L.A. could be more open to a rookie scale extension for Kuzma now that the team isn’t as concerned about retaining cap flexibility for 2021.
- Asked about the message he tweeted – and then deleted – on the first night of free agency about returning to the Lakers, new Sixers center Dwight Howard essentially confirmed the explanation reported at the time by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “At one point, I thought I (had an offer from the Lakers),” Howard said, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “And so that’s when you saw the infamous tweet because I really thought I was going back, but there was no offer.”