Regarding LeBron and AD’s new contracts:
- AD is currently finalizing a 5 year, $190 contract with the Lakers. It’s a four year commitment with a player option for a fifth year.
- LeBron just signed a 2 year extension with the Lakers worth $85 million, keeping him in LA through the 2023 season. His original 4-year contract with the Lakers that he signed prior to the 2019 season had a player option for a 4th season, which would’ve been 2023, but now the Lakers have essentially just bought out that year and gave him a bump in pay for it.
- Did anyone really think this wouldn’t happen? LeBron is about to be 36. He’s not going to another team. He’s retiring as a Laker. Why would he go anywhere else? He’s got AD. He’s in the most attractive free agent destination in the league. Veterans will take less money to come ring chase on the Lakers until the end of LeBron’s career. There was never any chance LeBron would go somewhere else.
- LeBron’s contract expires when Bronny graduates high school. Maybe he’s expecting his son to be able to go straight to the NBA from high school, and wants to make sure he’s a free agent and able to sign wherever he wants when his son potentially enters the league.
- And we all expected AD to stay. The question was how long he would sign for. And now he’s committed to the Lakers through at least 2024, actually a year longer than LeBron is. Davis will be 31 when he can opt out of his contract, and now he and Bron are positioned to try to establish a dynasty in LA. They are in this for the long haul, at least in modern NBA terms.
- But the real news here is that this is an indication that the Lakers expect Giannis to sign a supermax contract extension with the Bucks. Remember when people were saying that AD was deciding between a 1+1 contract or a 5 year max deal because he wanted to put the Lakers in position to be able to sign Giannis next year, and that what type of contract AD ended up signing would depend on what they thought would happen with Giannis?
- Well, AD signing this contract is a strong indication that the Lakers don’t think they’ll be able to get Giannis. Maybe it means Giannis is staying in Milwaukee, or maybe it means he just won’t go to the Lakers specifically. But over the past few weeks it became clear that the only reason AD wouldn’t sign the max contract with the Lakers was to make room for Giannis next offseason. But now that move appears to be completely off the table. The Lakers will not be adding any more superstar level players now. They are running with LeBron and AD and they think that will be enough to build a dynasty.
Rockets Trade Russ to Wizards for John Wall and a 1st Round Pick
- Wow. This deal was rumored for a while but people kind of wrote it off as a ridiculous idea. Westbrook and Wall are both similar players with very similar contracts, although Wall has the injury history and hasn’t played in like 2 full years. They’re also very close in age.
- Russ goes to the Wizards where he’ll be with his old OKC coach Scott Brooks, who coached the Thunder to the Finals in 2012 when Russ, KD and Harden were all there. I think the Wizards should be pretty decent now with Westbrook, Bradley Beal and first-round draft pick Deni Avdija. It might take a while for Avdija to turn into a good player, though. They’ve also got Davis Bertans, who can shoot threes. Maybe Washington will actually be pretty decent with this squad.
- But this move does not turn the Wizards into a Championship contender, nor does it turn the Rockets into a contender, either. The Rockets got worse in flipping Westbrook for Wall. But maybe this is part of their rebuild plan. It’s tough, however, to see what they’re trying to do.
- The Rockets are obviously not going to try to build around the 30-year-old Wall, and he’s getting paid a ton of money, like Westbrook was, so it’s going to be hard to flip that contract. Wall and Russ literally have identical contracts: both are signed through 2022 with player options for 2023 in which each guy can make over $46 million for that season. Russ will be 35 in 2023 so you know damn well he’s taking that option. Wall will be 33 and you have to assume he’s taking that option, too. The only indication of what the Rockets were looking for was them getting a first round pick in the deal. It’s a 2023 protected first rounder, however.
- Maybe the Rockets just wanted to move off of Westbrook because he was disgruntled and clearly wasn’t a great fit alongside Harden. While Wall and Westbrook are similar players, Wall is not as ball dominant and probably has better shot selection than Russ. He might pair better with Harden even though overall he’s an inferior player to Westbrook. Wall is more of a pure point guard than Russ, which should be better for Harden.
- But will this convince Harden to stay in Houston and drop his demand to be traded to Brooklyn? I really can’t see it. Harden wants to win a ring while he’s still in his prime, and he doesn’t have much time to do it. This Rockets team is not a championship contender with Harden and John Wall as the dynamic duo. They’re not beating the Lakers. And so I still think Harden wants to get traded.
- However, Houston still has no obligation to trade him. He’s under contract for at least two more years and the Rockets do not have to panic here. They can take their time and get the best offer for him.
This trade does not really alter the Championship picture, however. The only trade that could do that would be Houston trading Harden to the Nets.