LeBron James opts out of Lakers contract two days after team drafts son Bronny, agent says


LeBron James has opted out of his deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN.

The decision, although expected, comes two days after the team selected his son, Bronny, with the 55th pick in the NBA Draft.

It is widely expected the NBA’s all-time leading scorer will remain with the Lakers, though, and he could very well take a pay cut from the nearly $52 million he was set to make this season.

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dunks during the second half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA Playoff series against the Denver Nuggets April 27, 2024, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

“He is prioritizing a roster improvement. He’s been adamant about exuding all efforts to improve the roster,” Paul told the network.

James joined the Lakers in 2018 after a return to the Cavaliers, where he finally gave the city of Cleveland a championship. He won his fourth NBA title with the Lakers in 2020.

He just finished his 21st season and played in his record 20th All-Star Game.

At age 39, he averaged 25.7 points, 8.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game, all numbers comparable to his career stats of 27.1, 7.4 and 7.5. He also set a career-high by shooting 41.7% from 3-point range, while becoming the first player to score over 40,000 points in a career.

Among players who have played more than 100 games at age 35 and older, James’ 27.2 points per game are the most ever by a decent margin. Second is Michael Jordan, who averaged 22.5 in 171 games after turning 35. James has played in 262 since his 35th birthday.

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James gestures during the first half of a game against the Denver Nuggets March 2, 2024, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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The Lakers’ selection of Bronny made LeBron and Bronny the first father-son duo to be active players in the NBA at the same time.

Before his collegiate career began, Bronny went into cardiac arrest in July 2023 while working out at USC. It was later revealed he had a congenital heart defect. He was cleared to return, and The Associated Press recently reported he was medically cleared to play in the NBA. 

LeBron once said his final year in the NBA would be with his son, so some have assumed in recent years that James would retire after playing with his son for one year. But last week, Paul said the two were not a package deal.

Paul said LeBron was “off” the “idea” of playing alongside his son and was more focused on Bronny’s development in the league.

It seemed peculiar, though, that Bronny had invites for workouts with at least 10 teams but only accepted two from the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. However, Paul says that was all “by design.”

Scouts weren’t too kind to Bronny, with one saying he was “not an NBA prospect.” In his lone season with the USC Trojans, he averaged less than five points per game.

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Bronny James, left, of the USC Trojans greets LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers before a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Galen Center Jan. 6, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

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Once he begins the 2024-25 campaign, LeBron will make history in two ways. Not only will he share the floor with his son, he will also tie Vince Carter for the most NBA seasons played at 22.

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