As of August 4, LeBron James will be eligible to ink a two-year, $97 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers. But with the team’s future — including its upcoming season — in limbo, James’ preference is about as known to the public as his home address. There’s no telling whether James views Los Angeles as a feasible long-term home to close out his career, but there’s a great belief within several circles that his choice to remain stagnant with regard to his next contract is directly tied to the Lakers’ ability to build a championship supporting cast around him. “The only leverage that LeBron has ever played is, ‘If you want me to sign back, I need to know that you’re invested,'” Shannon Sharpe said on Tuesday’s episode of “Undisputed.” “Since the second year, it’s been win or bust. He knows the expectations he came in with. He wasn’t going to wait to build and trust the process. He’s like, ‘I’m on a right-now schedule.’ The Lakers are on, ‘Well, we have to see about 2027 and 2029.’ … He’s going to see if the Lakers are going to exhaust every possible angle that they possess in order to ensure that they have every opportunity to compete for a championship.”
For Skip Bayless, the holdout represents a power struggle between James and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. “Jeanie is upstairs saying ‘Enough!’ [to LeBron],” Bayless said. “‘LeBron wanted [Russell] Westbrook, and now we are stuck with Russ for one more year because we gave in last year to him.'” Bayless also argued that the pendulum could very well be swinging in Buss’ direction given James’ age and her knowledge of his love for Southern California. “August 4, the clock will start to tick, but it will tick for a long time, because you don’t have to commit until next season starts. [James] could become a free agent, which he’s done before, and work the system beautifully.
“He’s always waited it out, and had great patience. Now, he’s up against Jeanie Buss, and it’s a clash between them of who has the power. LeBron is now going on 38, Year 20, and I think she’s banking on him staying and finishing here. He loves it here, his family does, it’s perfect for him in Hollywood. I think she’s saying, ‘We hold all the cards.’” James had one of his best statistical seasons at age 36-37, posting 30.3 points, 8.2 boards and 6.2 assists per game in 56 contests. He also registered his best field goal percentage (52.4%) and effective field goal percentage (.590) since 2017-18.
.@RealSkipBayless on whether LeBron will sign a 2-year extension with the Lakers:
"LeBron has done a masterful job of staying in control and in command of his fate. He's held onto his power and never cashes his chips too soon." pic.twitter.com/Uqgpk702wy
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) July 26, 2022