LeBron James expected to opt out of Lakers contract and enter free agency market: report

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Four-time NBA champion LeBron James is expected to opt out of the last year of his current contract, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday. 

An opt-out would make the Los Angeles Lakers forward an unrestricted free agent. However, the belief within most NBA circles is that James does not intend to leave the Lakers. 

In May, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said if James decided to opt out, the move would likely center on the structure of his contract. If James wants to add a no-trade clause to his deal, that could be achieved in a new contract.

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LeBron James of the Lakers during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022, at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles. (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA rules prevent no-trade clauses from being tacked on to existing contracts via extensions. Only 10 players in league history have been able to work a no-trade clause into their respective contracts.

James is projected to ultimately ink a three-year, $162 million deal. He would effectively give up around $2.3 million in total money if he opts out instead of extending his player option. But, he might believe the financial sacrifice is worthwhile if it gets him a no-trade clause.

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Three years is the maximum number of years James can now sign for due to the NBA’s over-38 rule. The Lakers brass is reportedly willing to grant James “any contract structure” he wants in a new deal.

LeBron James points

Lakers forward LeBron James gestures during the Denver Nuggets game, March 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

If James truly wants to explore his options this offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers are one team that his name has been linked to. The Sixers would likely have enough salary cap space to add James to its roster.

LeBron James drives

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dribbles past Thunder forward Jalen Williams, Dec. 23, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)

Moving to Philly would pair James with star big man Joel Embiid and the most improved player from this past season, Tyrese Maxey.

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On Thursday, ESPN reported that the Lakers and JJ Redick agreed to terms of a four-year contract to make him the team’s next head coach. James recently launched the “Mind the Game” podcast, which is co-hosted by Redick.

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