USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

On Saturday, LeBron James once again proved why he was dubbed the Chosen One even before entering the league. With a driving lay-up from the left side against the Denver Nuggets, he became the first player in NBA history to reach 40,000 career regular-season points. “Being the first player to do something, it’s pretty cool in this league,” said the 39-year-old after the historic feat. However, he can have another first soon in the offseason.

Over his 21-year career, James has made more than a staggering $482 million in NBA salary. Next season, he will become the first player to cross the $500 million mark in the league. However, he will have to make some tough choices before he reaches that milestone.

LeBron James’ decision this offseason holds financial implications


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In 2022, James agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract, which includes a $51.4 million player option for next season with the Lakers. Now, he can either decide to opt in or become a free agent. If he decides to extend with LA, that would ensure him $53.9 million for the 2025–26 season and $58.3 million for the 2026–27 season, totaling up to $164 million in earnings for the next three seasons. However, this value drops significantly if he decides to take his talents elsewhere.

If James decides to decline his player option and sign with a new team come the offseason, he would command a respectable $50 million next season, $52.5 million, and $55 million over the subsequent seasons, adding up to $157 million. Therefore, in doing so, he would also miss out on the additional $7 million loyalty bonus. However, given James’ public statements about wanting to stay in LA, it is highly unlikely. “I am a Laker and I’m happy and been very happy being a Laker the last six years, and hopefully it stays that way,” James said during All-Star Sunday in Indianapolis. Wait, there’s more.

“But I don’t have the answer to how long it is or which uniform I’ll be in. Hopefully [it] is with the Lakers. It’s a great organization, with so many greats. But we’ll see,” added the Lakers forward. Should the Lakers fail to reach the first round for the second time in three seasons, billionaire James would probably overlook the $7 million to chase his legacy-defining fifth ring. However, the allure of the no-trade clause could play a significant role in his decision-making process.

Players can negotiate a no-trade clause only if they have been in the league for a minimum of eight years and have played four years for the team offering the contract. James checks both boxes, and only the Lakers can offer him this deal. Regardless of James’ decision this summer, it will be a story worth watching.

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