LeBron James helped the Lakers avoid salary cap restrictions by taking less than the max.

LeBron James helped the Lakers avoid salary cap restrictions by taking less than the max.

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LeBron James helped the Lakers avoid salary cap restrictions by taking less than the max.

LeBron James did the Los Angeles Lakers a big favor, re-signing for less than the max to help the team avoid salary cap restrictions.

The Lakers officially announced James’ two-year extension for $101.35 million on Saturday. It was initially reported that the four-time MVP would sign for the maximum of $104 million. By taking off $2.7 million, the Lakers will avoid the second apron by $45,000.

Bobby Marks of ESPN explained the implications of James’ decision in more detail.

“What does this mean? Barring a trade to put them over, the Lakers project to finish the 2024-25 season below the 2nd apron. Their 2032 first would not be subjected to the Draft pick penalty (eligible to trade next summer),” Marks wrote. “However, they are still restricted to take back more salary (unless it is $45K or below) in a trade or aggregate contracts if the post transactional salary exceeds $188.9M.”

James’ deal includes a player option for the second season and a no-trade clause.

LeBron James Was Willing to Take Pay Cut

James’ agent, Rich Paul, previously told ESPN that he’d be willing to take a pay cut if it meant the Lakers could add an impact player. Some names mentioned as potential candidates included James Harden, Klay Thompson and Jonas Valančiūnas. All three locked in their futures with other teams.

DeMar DeRozan was also thought to fit that description. However, the six-time All-Star landed with the Sacramento Kings on Saturday via a sign-and-trade.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka recently discussed the “apron world” and how it makes impact moves more challenging.

“We’re now in the apron world,” Pelinka said. “We’ve seen contending teams or championship-level teams have to lose players. That’s a result of the apron world we’re living in. So, does it make trades more challenging? Yes. Does it make good trades impossible? No. So we’ll continue to pursue upgrades to our roster.”

The Lakers currently have 15 players under contract.

LeBron James Emotional Over Bronny James Addition

Bronny James, LeBron’s eldest son, is the most publicized addition to the Lakers roster this offseason. LA selected the USC product with the No. 55 overall pick in the second round.

“For me, to be able to see my son make it in the NBA alone is great,” LeBron said on July 6 during a Team USA press conference. “It’s always been a dream of his. For us to be side-by-side, I’m proud of him. Words are lost. I mean, the kid has worked so hard to get back to this point, so much has happened over the last year with him.”

Bronny James made his Summer League debut on Saturday. He scored 4 points in 22 minutes on the court.

“Doesn’t matter if he plays well and doesn’t matter if he doesn’t play well,” LeBron said. “I just want him to continue to grow in practices, in film sessions, individual workouts. You can’t take anything stat-wise from the California Classic or (Vegas) Summer League. Only thing matters is him getting better. He’s behind because he hasn’t really played a full season. Getting better is the only thing that matters.”

Bronny James signed a four-year, $7.9 million contract with the Lakers on July 3.

J.R. DeGroote covers the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Lakers for Heavy.com. He graduated from Arizona State and has decades of experience in digital media with previous stops at SBNation and Bleacher Report. He has won multiple state, regional and national honors for sports reporting and photography. More about J.R. DeGroote

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