LeBron James' number of years left with Lakers is painfully obvious

Los Angeles Lakers v Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Lakers v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages

While he is defeating Father Time thus far, LeBron James is not going to remain undefeated against the inevitable. Before we know it, LeBron will have suited up in his last game for the Los Angeles Lakers, and in the NBA as a whole.

LeBron was asked about his basketball mortality after the Lakers' win over the Nets on Sunday and his response was as transparent as it was obvious; LeBron admitted that he does not have much time left playing in the NBA.

It is hard to predict just how much longer LeBron will be going at it as he is already defying everything we thought we knew about aging professional athletes. But when you look at the landscape of the league, his individual goals, and previous reports, it becomes clearer to draw a conclusion about just how much longer he has in the league.

LeBron James will play 3 more seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers

It may seem a bit bold to predict exactly how many more years LeBron James has in the NBA but there are several factors playing into this prediction. There is the perfect intersection of LeBron's personal goals, previous reports around his situation and the league as a whole that all point to three more years. Those factors are:

  • LeBron's reported asking price for a new contract
  • Bryce James' timeline
  • An eventual NBA expansion

It is not a coincidence that all of these factors line up to tell us that LeBron is going to play another three years, and that it will likely come with the Los Angeles Lakers. Let's dive into those factors, shall we?

LeBron's reported asking price for a new contract:

ESPN's Brian Windhorst (who has been more plugged in with LeBron's camp than any other NBA insider/analyst) said back in February that LeBron and his camp want a multi-year contract that pays him into the nine figures.

It would have to at least be a three-year contract for LeBron to get what he wants via this report but we do not even need to speculate about whether or not that is the case. Windhorst himself literally mentioned it being a three-year deal, which certainly is not an accident.

"Now, whether or not he’s able to finish that deal, whether or not the Lakers want to give him a three-year contract and pay him $60 million when he’s 42 years old, that’s a different discussion."

Ah, so the person who has covered LeBron the most just so happened to float three years out there as the timeline? And we are supposed to think that it wasn't intentional? Right.

Bryce James' timeline

LeBron has been very transparent about his desire to play with his son Bronny James in the NBA and that should happen in the next season or two. It just depends on when Bronny declares for the NBA Draft, and if the Lakers are willing to do whatever it takes to get Bronny in LA.

Bronny is not the only son who might make it to the league, though. LeBron's younger son Bryce is arguably more talented than Bronny and can be drafted as early as the 2026 NBA Draft. His rookie season would be the 2026-27 season, which would be the third year of this theorized three-year window for LeBron.

An eventual NBA expansion

The NBA expanding to 32 teams has been the worst-kept secret in sports with Adam Silver going on the record to say that Las Vegas is an expansion candidate for the league. LeBron himself has also said that it is his ultimate goal to own the Vegas expansion team.

LeBron is not allowed to be part of an ownership group while he is still playing. Thankfully, the window for when this expansion will happen lines up perfectly with this proposed three-year window that we have established.

Expansion will become a real possibility once the NBA's TV rights are up and the league works out a new deal. Those TV rights are up after the 2025-26 season, which is year two of this three-year window. That being said, the NBA is not going to suddenly expand and add two new teams in a short amount of time ahead of the 2026-27 season.

Instead, the league will likely use the first year of this TV rights deal to lay the foundation for expansion and give teams the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming expansion draft ahead of the 2027-28 season.

That allows LeBron to play the final year of this year-three window with both of his sons and then immediately transition into being part of the Las Vegas ownership group. LeBron will retire from playing, but he will remain very involved in the NBA, which is exactly what Silver and the league want.

With all that in consideration, it is safe to say that LeBron James has exactly three more seasons to play with the Los Angeles Lakers.