Lakers' Free Agency Goals Require Unlikely Sacrifice from LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers need LeBron James to make a sacrifice if they want to be players in free agency.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the process of building their roster for the 2024-25 season. They added Dalton Knecht and Bronny James through the NBA Draft but their eyes are on bigger fish. They now have to re-sign LeBron James to a new deal and fill out the rest of the squad through free agency and the trade market.

Due to the Lakers' lack of financial flexibility, that is easier said than done. There is, however, one way that the Lakers can create enough cap space to be active players in free agency and that requires a significant sacrifice from LeBron.

According to NBA insider Brian Windhorst, if D'Angelo Russell opts out of his player option for next season and LeBron James takes $12 million less than his maximum deal, the Lakers open up enough cap space to use the full mid-level exception.

"If Russell opts out, the Lakers will have a window to do something. And, look, LeBron may shut the door shut. But I do think if they had a plan of who they could sign for the full midlevel, they could take it to LeBron and he would at least listen."

Brian Windhorst, the Hoop Collective

Let's be clear, there is no indication that LeBron James will make this sacrifice. Historically, he has taken the maximum amount of money he can in negotiations and one can't blame him for that decision.

The full mid-level exception is close to $13 million per year for the 2024-25 season. That is not enough to get some of the best free agents on the market like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Klay Thompson. Would LeBron sacrifice his own money so that the Lakers can sign someone like Caleb Martin, De'Anthony Melton, or Tyus Jones?

That seems highly unlikely. At the same time, this puts into harsh perspective how difficult of a situation the Lakers are in this offseason. Instead of free agency, they have to be active on the trade market and make sure they build a championship-caliber roster around LeBron and Anthony Davis.

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