As if this offseason hasn’t been ridiculous enough, the Lakers and LeBron James are about to enter contract negotiations. Sure, this should be as easy as James naming a price and the Lakers making the offer, but this is the Lakers, and “easy” simply isn’t in the lexicon.
No, I’m not implying that there isn’t a price the Lakers wouldn’t happily pay to continue employing the greatest player of his generation. And no, I’m also not saying James is unhappy enough in L.A. that he wouldn’t accept a max offer. But again, the Lakers — and especially the Lakers with James in the organization — do not ever do anything normal.
James did something for the Lakers he hasn’t done very often: he alleviated them of the kind of pressure brought upon by the end of shorter-term deals. At the time, maybe he thought an organization as successful as the Lakers would meet him halfway with teammates of his choosing and, for the most part, that’s how things have gone. But then last trade deadline came and went with Rob Pelinka standing pat with an underwhelming roster and now it’s fair to wonder how these next few weeks might play out.
In all likelihood, James winds up extending and everyone can move on, looking forward to the coming season. But with an uninspiring roster and a backdrop of the Lakers’ failures to reunite James with Kyrie Irving (potentially by choice, depending on which reports you trust), it seems almost likely James returns to the old habits of utilizing his unsigned contract as leverage against the organization responsible for surrounding him with talent.
So in case the bevy of trade rumors, free agent signings, player agent firings, and everything in between haven’t been sufficient to get you through the offseason, buckle up. We might not have even reached peak ridiculousness.
This week on “The Anthony Irwin Show,” I welcomed Jorge Sedano of ESPN to discuss how this might all go down, and how to interpret the various reports leading up to James’ decision.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.