Blaschke: LeBron James’ new contract guarantees one thing – more Lakers mediocrity

Two more guaranteed years LeBron James?

Two more years of history, two more years of glamour, two more years of hustle and bustle.

Two more years of injury reports, two more years of bad play, two more years of shameful complacency.

so, Lakers What do you think about this, fans?

If you like your basketball with bells and whistles, you’ll be happy to respond to Wednesday’s news about James’ new contract.

However, if you want in the championship, you will perform with a sigh.

Me, I think I’ll scream.

James is arguably the greatest player in basketball history and will command the league’s biggest headlines this season as he passes through. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar In becoming the NBA’s all-time scoring leader. Building on the final year of his contract with a two-year extension worth $97.1 million would have been a great decision for a title-contending team.

Now is neither the time nor the place.

An organization that needed a massive rebuild has signed up for a spectacular relaunch. A franchise lacking youth and depth tied its fortunes with a guy playing in his final guaranteed season at age 39.

James will play for the Lakers this season under the terms of his current contract, and is guaranteed to play next season under the first year of the extended contract, and then play through the 2024-25 season because of a player option in the contract. so, Two years warrantyA third year is possible, and it is very high.

A team that must build for the future is stuck in the past, abandoning material for Cecil, clinging to an aging star even as the sky falls around them.

Supporters of James’ new contract will say it sets the Lakers up for success right now. With James as their cornerstone, the Lakers may now feel free to loosen their grip on those 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks and make a deal for a veteran scorer. With no cap space in the immediate future, they may be tempted to take back a bad contract that is often required in an NBA swap.

Bottom line, this stretch, yes, hallelujah, the Lakers can trade now Russell Westbrook.

But think for a moment about what this extension entails.

First that assumes James is still capable of leading a team to a full-season championship. The truth is he is not.

In his three full seasons with the Lakers — not counting the championship-shortened bubble in 2020 — James led his team to exactly zero playoff series wins, and just one playoff appearance. He can’t do it anymore, he can’t do it smoothly Anthony DavisNow the Lakers can’t bring in another superstar while he’s here.

The extension also assumes James will be healthy enough to be a full-time Lakers leader during the regular season. The sad truth is that he won’t.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook congratulates LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony during their preseason introductions against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 12, 2021.

(Ringo HW Chiu/Associated Press)

In those three full seasons, he averaged 52 games played. That means he missed an average of 30 games a year. It misses more than two months a year. Still giving him a longer contract? How does that make sense?

Yes, James was timeless and tough and incredible last season, averaging 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists. But if an athlete’s most important skill is their availability, then he has once again jumped the gun.

The biggest argument against extending James can be seen in what would have happened if he had been allowed to walk when his contract expired after this season.

If James leaves, the Lakers could enter the 2023-24 season with more than $70 million in cap space. That could be enough to bring in one superstar while setting the stage for another next year. Now it has been rebuilt.

Instead, not surprisingly, the Lakers chose to tighten their grip on the sagging shoulders of the planet’s biggest sports star, seemingly more about his fame than his game.

As the Lakers put it, Well, we’re going to be mediocre for the next couple of seasons anyway, so why not at least have one player who can see us through?

Instead of starting the hard work of becoming big again, they decided to be a crush again. It may have been via Hollywood, but, contrary to popular belief, it was never via the Lakers.

And don’t you dare compare it to Kobe Bryant’s two-year, $48 million contract that carried his damaged body toward the end of his Lakers career. In this town, there is no LeBron James Kobe BryantNeither will he.

Despite initial criticism at this point, Bryant’s deal proved worthy of a farewell, while James, who hasn’t been a Laker for long, or closely associated with the community, has always been considered a true Lakers icon.

However, this extension proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that James shares a trait with former Lakers stars. James is seemingly running the team, which could be problematic when he reaches the player-option portion of his contract before the 2024 season.

Remember when James said athletically that he wanted to play in the NBA His son is Brony? Aside from putting undue pressure on his son, who is considered a top-50 prospect entering his senior season at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High, James’ comments could put the same heat on the Lakers when his son becomes eligible in two years. Now or risk losing your father.

Two more guaranteed years for LeBron James?

A move that would normally have brought out the purple and gold flags felt like raising the white.

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