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Stephen A. Smith On LeBron James: "$97 Million Over The Next Two Years Is A Bargain. He Is Box Office."

LeBron James

Even at 37 years old, giving LeBron James the max was a no-brainer for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers. Besides all that he does on the court, he's a leader in the locker room that directs the culture and creates an atmosphere where everyone can thrive.

Those reasons are just some of why ESPN's broadcaster feels that LeBron's $97 million extension this week is a 'bargain' for the Lakers.

"I am critical of LeBron James and I'm telling you right now, the man is a top 3 player in the history of basketball, number 1. Number 2, he's grossly underpaid. From an average per year salary throughout his career, there are several players that are higher than him. LeBron James in Los Angeles -- $97 million over the next two years is a bargain. He is box office, he just finished averaging over 30 a game, he is still a sensational basketball player. The bottom line is this: two years from now when you've got some flexibility, they'll be able to do some things. When you look at what he brings to the table and the fact that he is box office, he is underpaid. He deserves more money."

The 2021-22 campaign was LeBron's best as a Laker (at least, statistically). Through 56 games, he averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game on 52% shooting.

Unfortunately, the Lakers as a team did not perform nearly as well and finished as the 11th seed in the West.

The Lakers still have that core intact, which has led to many doubts about what they can do this upcoming season. But with LeBron James in town, they have a chance to shock the world. That's just the kind of impact he has, and why he's well worth a $97 million salary.