LeBron James reportedly helps Lakers with $2.6M pay cut after signing new contract

LeBron James is now officially back with the Los Angeles Lakers. The veteran megastar signed his new two-year contract on Saturday, but according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, there was a little something in there that hadn’t been disclosed: a pay cut.

“Little” is definitely the word to describe this pay cut. He was originally reported to be making the maximum of $104 million on this deal, but the final amount is reportedly $101.35. That’s a pay cut of $2.65 million.

Now, there is no denying that $101 million is less than $104 million. A pay cut is when you get paid less than you were before, and LeBron’s situation fits the dictionary definition to the letter.

But in the history of sports pay cuts, this one falls under the “only technically a pay cut” category. This isn’t Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani leaving tens of millions on the table to sign with their No. 1 choice. This is LeBron James, the first active NBA player to become a billionaire. If his fortune was paid out in specially minted $1 million coins, two or three could go missing (as always happens with a pile of loose change) and he’d never notice.

This is the rich person’s version of a little favor. If LeBron had signed for the max, it would have elevated the Lakers to the second apron, which is a new set of penalties for teams who spend beyond a certain level. Not only would they have match every dollar they go over the apron ($190 million) and pay it to the league, they’d get no mid-level exceptions at all.

But according to Marks, LeBron “giving back” nearly $3 million to the Lakers means they’ll avoid those second apron penalties by roughly $45,000.

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