Pro Football Hall of Famer and sports analyst Shannon Sharpe believes LeBron James is patiently waiting to see the moves the LA Lakers make before he agrees to sign a contract extension with the club.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that the Lakers' front office had "productive" discussions with James regarding his contract extension. The four-time MVP is eligible for a contract extension this summer and there is a lot of speculation regarding whether he will sign it.
Shannon Sharpe connected the dots between the Kevin Durant saga in Brooklyn and James' pending decision to stay in Los Angeles. He believes that if the Lakers can acquire Kyrie Irving from the Nets, LeBron James will sign a two-year extension. However, Irving's future in LA will also depend on Kevin Durant's future. If Durant can't leave Brooklyn, then the Lakers can't send in Westbrook for Irving as Durant would be "reluctant" to play with his former teammate.
Hence, Durant's status will ultimately determine James' status as well.
On his show "Undisputed," Sharpe said:
"Basically everything is depending on what Joe Tsai and Kevin Durant (and) what conclusion they come to. Because if Kevin Durant says, 'I'm willing to stay, but you got to move Kyrie. And then now all of a sudden I'm trying to facilitate maybe two or three-team trades because I know Kevin Durant does not want to play with Russell Westbrook.…from all indications, basically only really one team that really wanted Kyrie. That was the Lakers."
Shannon Sharpe knows that the LA Lakers cannot acquire Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets by simply offering Russell Westbrook in return. Westbrook and Durant were former OKC Thunder teammates. Their relationship ended on bad terms after the latter decided to leave for the Golden State Warriors in 2017.
Hence, if the Lakers want to acquire Irving and the Nets want to get rid of him, it will have to be a trade involving multiple teams.
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LeBron James might not sign a contract extension with the Lakers
LeBron James has the leverage in contract negotiations with the LA Lakers. He played at an MVP level last year and was leading the league in scoring until his unfortunate injury late in the season. He averaged 30.3 points per game last season, previously unheard of by 37-year-old players. James is certainly not to blame for the Lakers missing the NBA play-in tournament.
Shannon Sharpe believes that LeBron James is holding out on signing the extension because he wants to see the transfer moves the Lakers make in the upcoming weeks leading up to training camp. James could simply walk away next summer if the team is not heading in the direction of a championship.
"I think LeBron is just holding on to see, 'Okay, let me see the moves that they make and that will let me know whether or not I want to be a part of this longer than after this season'…I do believe LeBron James is holding out because that's what he normally does. The only leverage that he really has is that when it comes up, 'If y'all not making moves, I'm gonna leave."
Sharpe added that the primary thing that motivates LeBron James is championships. A title-contending roster is the only thing that will ensure he signs an extension. He outlined James' possible thought process and said:
'Okay, let me see what type of moves Rob, Jeannie, you guys, let me see what you can do…because it's all about championship for me. I don't play for anything else. I don't play for division titles. I don't play for scoring titles.'"
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