NBA insider thinks LeBron will opt out of Lakers deal, seek no-trade clause

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James has some significant decisions to make about his future following this season, and one prominent NBA insider said the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is likely to opt out of his current contract in order to get a no-trade clause.

“I think LeBron’s gonna opt out no matter what,” Brian Windhorst said. “And the reason I think he’s gonna opt out no matter what is even if he just signs back for one year, the only functional way for LeBron to get a no-trade clause is to sign a new contract. If he extends the contract he’s in or picks up that option, extends onto it, he can’t get a no-trade clause. And I think for a number of different reasons, LeBron would like, ask for and probably be granted a no-trade clause.”

The 39-year-old has a $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 NBA season. Declining it would not necessarily mean he wants to leave the Lakers. In fact, the opposite is likely true as he wants the security of determining where he will finish his career, which currently is winding up its 21st NBA season.

It would be a status befitting one of the game’s greatest players. There reportedly is only one current NBA player who has a no-trade clause: Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal, who in fact waived it in order to be moved by the Washington Wizards this past offseason.

Though James hinted at retirement briefly this season after also doing so after losing the 2023 Western Conference Finals last season, it looks like he will continue to play. A February report said he might be seeking a new nine-figure deal from the Lakers. In addition, his son Bronny recently declared for the 2024 NBA Draft, and the younger James would satisfy his father’s dream of the two playing in the NBA at the same time if he were to make it to the league.

The elder James continues to be among the league’s best even as the oldest active player in the NBA. He is averaging 25.4 points, 7.2 assists and 8.2 assists per game in his 68 appearances. The early-season idea that his playing time would be more closely managed and limited proved to be off the mark. Despite dealing with an ankle issue, he is averaging more than 35 minutes per game and has made more appearances than in any of his six seasons with Los Angeles.

The Lakers also are heading toward the postseason on a high note. They have won nine of their past 11 games and are in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 45-34 record. They are just 1.5 games out of sixth place and a guaranteed playoff position with three games to go, including Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.