Some of the greatest players to ever grace an NBA court have laced it up for the Los Angeles Lakers. There is so much history in the purple and gold as the Lakers are by far the most historic and prestigious franchise in the sport.
With so many stars in franchise history, there have been some truly unprecedented contract. Magic Johnson once signed a 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers, which truly is one of the most unique contracts in American sports.
But it is nowhere near close to being the most expensive. Athlete salaries have really ballooned over the last 30 years so all of the most expensive contracts in team history have come in recent years. Despite all the history in LA, though, not every expensive contract was given to a good player.
5 biggest contracts in Los Angeles Lakers history:
5. Luol Deng: 4-year, $72 million
The salary cap took a massive jump in the 2016 offseason due to the league’s new television deal. For some teams, like the Golden State Warriors, this resulted in having the cap space to bring in another superstar to form a true dynasty.
Meanwhile, other teams like the Lakers ended up spending the money frivolously. That offseason the Lakers signed Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, committing over $130 million combined to two players who at the time didn’t make a lot of sense.
Los Angeles was able to pivot off of Mozgov’s contract by trading D’Angelo Russell. The team had to stretch and waive Deng, carrying his cap hit all the way until the 2022 offseason.
4. Shaquille O’Neal: 7-year, $120 million
This was back in the day when NBA teams could sign longer contracts for their stars. Shaquille O’Neal’s jump to the Lakers was significant for multiple reasons. Not only did it create a seismic shift in the league, but it foreshadowed what would eventually become of NBA contracts.
Teams give out $120 million like it is going out of style in 2023. Back in 1996, it was not as common. Adjusted for inflation, Shaq’s deal is the equivalent of a $234.84 million contract in 2023.
3. Kobe Bryant: 7-year, $136.4 million
The Lakers had to decide between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and the team chose Bryant. After this, the Lakers made sure to hand out a contract that usurped Shaq’s, paying Kobe just under $140 million over seven years.
As far as average salary goes, Kobe’s $136.4 million does not even come close to the top two contracts on this list. However, in terms of all-time earnings with the Lakers, Kobe is still number one (for now). Kobe made over $328 million in LA.
2. LeBron James: four-year, $154 million
The Lakers changed the direction of the franchise in the 2018 summer when the team was able to sign the face of the NBA, LeBron James. Up until this point, the franchise was in a serious dry spell as the stretch between Kobe’s titles and LeBron’s title is the worst in franchise history.
LeBron was paid handsomely for coming to LA and he would cash out with another extension in LA, which will earn him well over $200 million with the team by the time it is all said and done.
1. Anthony Davis: 3-year, $186 million
Anthony Davis’ extension isn’t just the most expensive contract in franchise history, it broke the NBA record for the largest average annual salary. Davis is benefiting from the ever-growing NBA salary cap and will earn close to $200 million over a three-year period.
That is an absurd amount of money and is enough to eventually make him the highest-paid player in franchise history. AD will have earned over $50 million more than Bryant with the Lakers by the time his extension is up, assuming he stays in LA the entire time.