LeBron inks $85M maximum extension

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    LOS ANGELES. — LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $85 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent told multiple news outlets on Wednesday.

    James, who turns 36 later this month, led the Lakers to their first title in a decade and 17th overall inside the NBA bubble in Orlando in October, taking home the Finals MVP honors in the process.

    The Akron, Ohio native, who also won two championships with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, joined the Lakers in July 2018 in a move that shifted the balance of power in the league toward Southern California.

    Many basketball analysts have picked the Lakers as the favorites to repeat next season. The team will face cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers in their first game of the season on Dec. 22.

    James is convinced the Angeles Lakers can repeat as champions.

    James enters Lakers training camp surrounded by what he labeled “younger” teammates in a compacted offseason with a to-do list that still includes re-signing free agent All-Star Anthony Davis.

    James, whose 36th birthday is Dec. 30, enters his third season in LA and 18th overall looking to defend the NBA title and remain healthy. He played a career-low 34.6 minutes per game last season in 67 regular-season games. But James also played 21 playoff games (averaging 36.3 minutes) in the NBA bubble in Orlando and the NBA finals ended just six weeks ago.

    Those figures are the context serving as the backdrop to the question James was asked Tuesday: Can the Lakers repeat?

    “We can. I mean, it’s that simple,” James said Tuesday on the podcast “Road Trippin’,” hosted by Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton. “We absolutely can. . . First of all, it all starts with health. You have to have some luck. You have to have health. If we can stay healthy.”

    James said, “don’t worry about me in the preseason” and pointed to his age as the reason he is unlikely to be on the floor for the Lakers’ four-game preseason schedule.

    It will make for an interesting early chemistry experiment for head coach Frank Vogel, but James believes the pieces in place on the current roster are superior to the 2020 championship team. Key acquisitions include point guard Dennis Schroder, sixth man and power forward Montrezl Harrell and former Raptors and Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.

    “We did get younger,” said James. “We have a 27-year-old point guard (Schroder). We got the 27-year-old Sixth Man of the Year award (winner) in Trezz. We got younger. We got Marc, who is a Defensive Player of the Year and his IQ, not only playing against him in the NBA, but also playing against him versus Spain with the national team.”