King James still hungry for more

King James still hungry for more

LOS ANGELES • National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) LeBron James, who will turn 36 later this month, has agreed on a two-year, US$85 million (S$113.6 million) contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Rich Paul said on Wednesday.

The extension means James will make US$39.2 million next season and will be a Laker through the 2022-23 season, ESPN reported.

He will also earn US$41.1 million in 2021-22 and US$44.5 million in 2022-23 and by the time his contract ends, he will have played two decades in the NBA.

The extension also opens up the possibility of the four-time NBA champion playing with his eldest son. Bronny, 16, will graduate from high school in 2023, and with NBA commissioner Adam Silver set to allow high school players to be directly drafted rather than requiring them to play in college by 2022, there is a chance the guard, who is considered an “elite talent”, could be on the same team as his dad.

James putting pen to paper also signals his confidence that the Lakers can break out of a tie with the Boston Celtics and win a record 18th championship this upcoming season.

In an interview with the Road Trippin’ podcast earlier this week, the forward said: “We can (repeat the win). I mean, it’s that simple.

“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.”

Part of his belief stems from their shrewd post-season acquisitions, namely Dennis Schroder, 27, Montrezl Harrell, 26, and Marc Gasol, 35.

“We did get younger,” James said. “We have a 27-year-old point guard. We got the 26-year-old Sixth Man of the Year award in Trezz. We got younger.

“We got Marc, who is a (former) 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.”

FITNESS IS KEY

We can (repeat the win). It’s that simple. We absolutely can… First of all, it all starts with health. You have to have some luck. You have to have health.

LEBRON JAMES, Los Angeles Lakers forward, on the team’s chances of an 18th championship this season.

The four-time MVP also hinted the Lakers were looking at re-signing guard Quinn Cook, who is currently a free agent, and even possibly reuniting the Gasol brothers.

“Quinn, he’s a pro, he’s definitely going to get a look,” he said. “Hopefully back with us…. Hopefully, we may bring him back.”

On 40-year-old Pau, who is another free agent and was part of the Lakers team who won titles in 2009 and 2010, he added: “We’ll see. We’ll see, I mean, maybe. We’ll see. We’ll see.”

Last season, James averaged 25.3 points and led the NBA in assists with 10.2 per game.

He became the first player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP award with three different teams as the Lakers beat the Miami Heat in six games in the title decider in October.

He will enter his 18th NBA season in 2020-21 ranked third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 34,241 points, behind only Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).

The Lakers will battle the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec 22 to open the season, with the championship ring ceremony also held on the same night.

The other opening night game features the Golden State Warriors at the Brooklyn Nets, who are expected to name former Warrior Kevin Durant in their starting line-up for the first time since June last year when he ruptured his Achilles tendon.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE