Lakers fans rejoice, you have at least TWO more seasons of LeBron James (and maybe even a third) to look forward to. But! Before you celebrate too hard, LeBron’s services did not come cheap.
On Wednesday afternoon Rich Paul confirmed that LeBron has signed a two-year $97.1 million contract extension with the Lakers. The deal includes a player option for a third season AND a 15% “kicker,” which means if the Lakers decided to trade LeBron in the second year (they can’t trade him in the first), they would have to pay hm 15% of whatever remained on the contract.
On a per-season average basis, this new deal works out to $48.5 million per year, but LeBron will actually earn slightly different amounts in each of the two upcoming seasons:
- For the 2023-2024 season LeBron will earn $46.7 million
- For the 2024-2025 season LeBron will earn $50.4 million
FYI, LeBron earned $44.5 million from the Lakers in the 2022-2023 season.
Unfortunately none of LeBron’s upcoming salaries will actually be enough to make him the highest-paid player in the NBA or the highest-paid player in NBA history in terms of single season salary.
Steph Curry (who earned slightly more than LeBron last season) is going to be the highest-paid player in the league for the next three seasons. He is scheduled to earn the following amounts:
- 2023-2024: $51.9 million
- 2024-2025: $55.7 million
- 2025-2026: $59.6 million
Those numbers will indeed make Steph the highest-paid NBA player ever in terms of per-season salary for a couple years… but there’s a caveat!
In Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls, 1997-1998, he earned $33.14 million. After adjusting for inflation, earning $33.14 million in 1997/1998 is the same as earning $61.17 million in today’s dollars. That will stand as the highest, inflation-adjusted single-season NBA salary until 2026.
What happens in 2026? That’s when, barring any injuries, Damian Lillard is scheduled to earn $63,228,828 – in a single season – from the Portland Trail blazers.
On the plus side for LeBron (as if earning $97.1 million wasn’t plus side enough), this new extension will solidify at least one earnings record for him. LeBron currently holds the record for highest NBA career earnings. As of the end of the 2022 season his NBA salary earnings total $390 million.
By the time this two-year extension is over, his on-court career earnings will be $487 million. If he signs for a third season, earning an additional $50 million, LeBron will be the first NBA player to surpass the half-billion career earnings mark. By the end of a third year with the Lakers, LeBron James’ NBA career earnings will top…
And by then I bet LeBron will actually be a real-life billionaire. As opposed to a made-up-to-sell-magazines-and-get-pageviews billionaire.