Sources: LeBron reaches deal to stay with Lakers

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LeBron James has agreed to return to the Los Angeles Lakers on a two-year, $104 million contract that includes a player option for 2025-26 and a no-trade clause, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

The deal brings James back for his 22nd NBA season and essentially becomes a one-plus-one deal that allows him to reassess his Lakers and NBA future next summer.

James joins Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal as one of only two players in the NBA with no-trade clauses.

The maximum deal of $104 million would put the Lakers about $1 million over the league’s new punitive salary second apron and would severely limit the team’s roster flexibility. James’ agent Rich Paul, the CEO of Klutch Sports, is planning to discuss with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka the possibility of taking $1 million or so below the maximum to keep Los Angeles under the $188.9 million second apron, sources said.

The Lakers are working to sign Bronny James Jr. — the 55th selection in this year’s draft — to his rookie contract. He will join his father on the Lakers roster, where they could be the first father-son duo to play in the NBA at the same time in league history.

James, who will turn 40 on Dec. 30, is considered one of the greatest players in NBA history. The only player to eclipse 40,000 career points, he is fourth all time in assists, eighth in steals, eighth in 3-pointers made and third in free throws made.

Last season, James became the first player to make 20 All-Star teams, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — whom he had already passed for the all-time scoring mark — for the most in NBA history. James’ 20 All-NBA selections and 13 first-team All-NBA selections are also the most in the history of the sport.

He also is the NBA’s all-time leader in postseason points scored and is in the top 10 in rebounds (fourth), assists (second), steals (first), blocks (10th), 3-pointers made (third) and free throws made (first).

The four-time champion and MVP, who led the Lakers to their 17th title in 2020 in the NBA’s bubble, averaged 25.7 points, 8.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game last season in his age-39 campaign. James, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic were the only three players to average at least 25, 8 and 7 in the NBA last season.

The Lakers, though, were unable to get past the first round for the fourth time in his six seasons in Los Angeles. Before joining the Lakers, James reached the NBA Finals eight consecutive years with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers and won at least a single playoff series in 13 consecutive seasons.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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