Lakers Won't Explore Trading LeBron James If He Doesn't Sign Extension In August

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It’s not secret, the Lakers organization is in a state of flux. They’re pedantically pursuing head coaching candidates and all the while, reviewing their options for improving a roster that piled up 49 losses this past season. One conversation that’s been rekindled this week, thanks to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, is the idea of the Lakers trading LeBron James.

There’s been plenty of leaks by the Lakers franchise over the last couple of weeks (months? years?), but it doesn’t appear that the front office has any designs on sending LeBron elsewhere. Even if he doesn’t sign the extension he’ll be eligible for in August.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss won’t explore trading LeBron away, even if his return the following year isn’t guaranteed. 

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“If LeBron James ultimately decides against signing an extension with the Lakers in August, sources say Buss wouldn’t see his desire to play out the final season of his contract as a reason to consider trading him. Without an extension, James’ current deal will expire after next season (in which he’s owed $47.1 million).”

Throughout his career, LeBron has preferred to sign two-year deals with the second year being a player option. It keeps the leverage on LeBron’s side. It allows him to constantly pressure a franchise to stay in “win now” mode. If he feels that an organization hasn’t committed to building a contender or his odds of winning another championship are better elsewhere, James easily take his talents elsewhere.

According to Amick, the Lakers aren’t too concerned with dealing with the infamous 1+1 Lebron contracts moving forward. As long as they’re all one big, happy Lakers family. 

“Still, all signs point to the year-by-year approach being considered acceptable by the Lakers — so long as the relationship with James is still in a good place…but from Buss on down, it appears the Lakers won’t be demanding any sort of long-term commitment from James as some sort of protection against being traded.”

The Lakers have a hefty shopping list to take are of this summer, but trading away their franchise superstar is not on the menu.