LeBron James is now eligible for a contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, and it seems likely that a deal will be struck at some point. With the King hardly showing any signs of slowing down, locking him up right away with an extension seems like the way to go, but Tim Bontemps suggests an alternative strategy.
He says that the best way forward for the Lakers and LeBron is for him to not sign an extension this summer and instead sign it next year. He pointed to the way the Sixers and James Harden operated and said that the same should be done here as it would give them flexibility moving forward.
"If you look at the situation the Lakers are in, we've talked at nausea about that they don’t have enough salary cap space to go out and fill in the roster around him and Anthony Davis. And the one way they have to do that, is for LeBron to wait till next summer, opt out of his contract, and like James Harden, this summer with Philly, take a little bit less money, and allow them to fill in around him and Anthony Davis on this roster."
"If he signs a max extension this summer, the Lakers are stuck in the exact same situation they are now and they are going to be in that situation forward because they have no other contracts on the roster to trade. They have no other way to create salary to go get other players on their roster. If I am LeBron and the Lakers and I am working together for the best path forward, that to me is the only best path forward, is to wait till next summer, opt out, give the Lakers the flexibility at around him, and then fill in a number late on. Just exactly what the Sixers did which allowed them to get PJ Tucker and Danuel House this summer."
It is an interesting way to approach this situation, and it definitely helped the Sixers, as Zach Lowe stated that this is their best team of the Embiid era since the Jimmy Butler days. If LeBron does wait it out like Harden did this summer, then they can sign some key role players in free agency and can give him a contract depending on what is left over.
At this stage of his career, winning a title is all that matters for Lebron, and the only way you can see the Lakers really being a threat going forward would be if he does something like this.