Lakers Notes: LeBron, First-Round Picks, Westbrook

LeBron James will become eligible next Thursday to sign a contract extension with the Lakers that could be worth up to a projected $97.1MM over two years, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. If James doesn’t agree to an extension with Los Angeles, he would remain on track to reach free agency in 2023.

According to Stein, sources briefed on the matter say that James is happy in L.A. and suggest that his family has become “increasingly entrenched” in Southern California in recent years. Stein adds that the belief in league circles is that LeBron is unlikely to seriously consider leaving the Lakers unless he has the opportunity to play with his son Bronny James elsewhere beginning in 2024.

Once James becomes extension-eligible next week, he and the Lakers won’t be facing any sort of deadline in the near future — he’d remain extension-eligible all the way up until June 30, 2023, and could agree to a new one- or two-year contract at any time before then to avoid free agency. So if the two sides don’t strike a deal immediately, it shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for concern.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Within the same Substack story, Stein writes that seemingly no potential trade partners want to make a deal with the Lakers unless they can get both of L.A.’s tradable first-round picks (2027 and 2029). Based on reporting to date, Stein’s claim presumably applies to at least the Nets with Kyrie Irving and the Pacers with Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. According to Stein, the Lakers have thus far only shown a willingness to move one of those two first-rounders in any deal — and they’ll likely look to add at least some protections to any pick they move.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to a handful of league insiders about what the Lakers should do with Russell Westbrook and received a wide range of opinions. Those sources were split on how aggressive the team should be in trying to make a preseason trade and how many picks they’d attach to Westbrook. As Pincus writes, some of his sources think L.A. should let Westbrook stay away from the team if he’s still a Laker this fall, while others believe he can still salvage some on-court value for his current club.
  • In case you missed it, there are five Lakers players who can’t be traded until at least December 15. We shared that full list earlier today.
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