NBA insider reveals move Los Angeles Lakers must make for LeBron James to take $16M discount

Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James opted out of his contract and entered NBA free agency, creating one of the most interesting storylines in basketball this offseason. While James is expected to re-sign with the Lakers, the value of his next contract might be dictated by the Lakers offseason moves.

NBA rumors have connected Los Angeles this summer to guard Dejounte Murray and a trade-u in the 2024 NBA Draft. While neither happened, a majority of the Lakers offseason targets are still available either via trade or NBA free agency.

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The Lakers already made a pair of offseason moves to appease James, including drafting Bronny James with the 55th overall pick and hiring LeBron’s podcast co-host JJ Redick as the new head coach. All of that would be enough to convince James to re-sign a new three-year deal worth a max value of $162 million.

If the Lakers want a discount, however, that’s going to cost them. As TNT’s senior NBA insider Chris Haynes disclosed convincing James to take a discount would require Los Angeles to convince another All-Star player to take a discount.

“In order for LeBron James to sacrifice enough money to get the Lakers to receive the full mid-level exception, LeBron would have to take about $16 million less next season…It would take about that much to get the Lakers the full mid-level exception…It would take a star level player, or a borderlien star level player, to except that full mid-level exception, that’s what it would take to get LeBron to do that.”

Chris Haynes on the next LeBron James contract, influence on Los Angeles Lakers offseason

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Some of the names Haynes mentioned are James Harden and Klay Thompson as the caliber of talent required for James to take a discount. Importantly, as Haynes noted, this would also require Harden or Thompson to agree to take a discount by playing on the full MLE.

Jonas Valanciunas has also been floated in Lakers rumors as one of the team’s targets this summer. Los Angeles wants more help at center and Valanciunas is one of the best big men available this summer. However, it’s not believed that Valanciunas signing for the MLE would be enough to convince James to take a discount.

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Los Angeles is certainly hoping that Paul George re-signs with the Los Angeles Clippers, a move that could seemingly take them out of the mix for Thompson. However, the Orlando Magic have the financial flexibility to offer Thompson more money and the Dallas Mavericks could offer him a better path to winning an NBA title.

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