LeBron James earned roughly $100 million for signing an extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he might be receiving more than just a big stack of cash out of the deal.
If there was any uncertainty about the superstar’s commitment to LA, those essentially were answered Wednesday with reports of the new two-year megadeal. Apparently, James also made it clear behind the scenes he wants a better supporting cast with one very specific co-star in mind: Kyrie Irving.
The Athletic’s Jovan Buha reported the Lakers were confident James would return, but “the primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.”
Back-channel roster moves are nothing new for James, who is the most powerful player in the NBA. What’s interesting, of course, is he and Irving clearly are at a good place in their relationship after the duo’s relatively rocky end in Cleveland. Irving, who is in the midst of shooting himself out of yet another town, has been the subject of Brooklyn Nets trade rumors all summer, especially with the uncertain future of Kevin Durant.
Making all of this happen seems easier said than done, at least on the surface. Russell Westbrook is still a Laker, and that situation seemingly needs resolution in order for an Irving deal to go down. Regardless, though, staking the short-term future to some combination of James, Westbrook, Anthony Davis and/or Irving, doesn’t bode well for the long-term stability of the franchise.
That’s probably not much of a concern to the aging James, though.