It’s official: LeBron James signs $153.3-million contract with Lakers
Another tweet from Klutch Sports announced the news, this time with a photo.
LeBron James is grinning, with headphones still in his ears, a pen sitting on a large wooden table and before him the stack of paper that made the next phase of his life official.
Rob Pelinka is smiling, with his right arm around James’ shoulder, finally able to acknowledge his first home run.
Rich Paul, James’ agent, sits beside them.
It’s official. LeBron James is a Laker.
The biggest free agent acquisition the Lakers have had in years — maybe ever — signed his contract at one of his homes in Brentwood on Monday afternoon. The contract is worth $153.3 million over four years and includes a player option for the fourth year.
For eight days after James’ representatives announced his decision, the Lakers avoided any mention of their new superstar. They kept their young players unavailable for comment, for fear of what they might say. Lakers coach Luke Walton and general manager Pelinka remained mum as they took in games during the Las Vegas summer league.
The Lakers, who twice ran afoul of league rules in the past year, were especially cautious not to do so again by announcing a deal with James before it was signed.
But on Monday the Lakers were freed from such constraints.
Joey Buss, the second youngest of the siblings who co-own the Lakers, added James to a long list of Lakers legends in welcoming him.
“LA has welcomed the arrival of Rabbit, Logo, Stumpy, Big Dipper, Captain, Silk, Magic, Big Game, Diesel, Mamba, Spaniard and now welcomes a King!!” Buss tweeted.
Younger brother Jesse Buss thought back to a dinner that he, Joey and sister Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner, had with Magic Johnson just before making him the Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
“Magic made a promise then that he would be able to get us back to our winning tradition just like my dad had always done in the past,” Jesse wrote on Instagram. “Over this past week that promise has materialized and I could’ve never imagined it happening in this fashion. I’m beyond grateful to be part of something that is this special. WOW! This is an unbelievable moment in Lakers history. Welcome @kingjames. Truly a transcendent player and it’ll be amazing being able to watch you in the Purple & Gold every night.”
James’ decision ended a long free-agent drought for the Lakers. For more than five years, they’d been striking out in efforts to attract the league’s top players. Some didn’t like the Lakers’ vision. Some weren’t interested in being part of their rebuilding years, or pulling them out of it.
James considered the Lakers, he considered returning to Cleveland, where he spent 11 of his first 15 seasons, and he considered the Philadelphia 76ers. Ultimately, after a meeting with Johnson at his Brentwood home on the night of June 30, when free agency opened, James chose the Lakers. He agreed to the deal July 1 before taking off for a vacation in Europe.
In the week that followed, the Lakers signed Rajon Rondo (one year, $9 million) and re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (one year, $12 million). They are expected to sign JaVale McGee (one year, veteran minimum) and Lance Stephenson (one year, $4.4 million) on Tuesday.
James is not scheduled to do a press conference, but Pelinka plans to talk to reporters Wednesday at the Lakers’ El Segundo facility to address all the acquisitions.
Now Pelinka finally can say his name.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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