Lakers may be gearing up to make franchise-altering mistake with LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

LeBron James saved the Los Angeles Lakers. Regardless of how fans may have felt about him before he came to LA, LeBron deciding to sign with the Lakers made the franchise relevant again after the worst stretch it has ever seen.

The Lakers were on a decade-long stretch of not making the playoffs and whiffed on every move they tried to make. LeBron signing brought notoriety back to the franchise, allowed the team to trade for Anthony Davis, and eventually led to a championship. None of that is possible without LeBron.

At 39 years old with a player option after this season, many are wondering if this is the end of the road for LeBron in Los Angeles. With Bronny James potentially coming into the league next season, LeBron could live out his dream of playing with one of his sons in the NBA.

But that might not be the case. If ESPN's Brian Windhorst is to be believed (and he is always right about LeBron moves), LeBron might actually be eyeballing a big payday from the Lakers, not a departure.

Lakers could be gearing up to pay LeBron nine figures on a new contract

If LeBron James wants a new three-year deal that pays him around $60 million per season then the Lakers are going to do it. The Lakers paid Kobe Bryant massive money late in his career when they didn't need to and the team will likely do the same for LeBron.

Jeanie Buss is concerned about the team's image and wants other stars to know that the Lakers will take care of their star players. The optics of LeBron leaving the Lakers would be awful for Buss, which is why the team will fork over whatever he is asking for even if another team is not offering it.

And this would be a mistake by the Lakers. It is not rocket science to figure out why. A three-year deal would pay LeBron until he is 42 years old. Sure, he is breaking down age barriers right now, but there is a chance of the wheels falling off at any point. One big injury can essentially end LeBron's run as a star player. Just look at what happened to Kobe with his Achilles.

The Lakers are not winning a title if they are paying both LeBron and Anthony Davis over $120 million combined. Sure, the salary cap will go up so there will be more money to spend around them, but that is simply too much. LeBron is only going to get worse with age, not better, and there is always the risk of injury with AD.

Then there is the Trae Young wildcard of this situation. The Lakers have been heavily tied to Young as an offseason trade destination, which would make this situation even worse. The Lakers would be going all in on three players who are getting older and would not mesh well together. Just like with the Russell Westbrook trade, this would blow up in the team's face.

But instead of Westbrook being the former star who is getting paid way too much, it would be LeBron James.

Next. Turned backs on. 17 people who turned their backs on the Lakers. dark