LeBron James says pay cut was about making sure his relationship with Lakers works

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers listens to a question from a reporter during training camp for the United States men's basketball team Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

LeBron James said he wanted to give the Lakers something back by taking close to $3 million less in his deal to keep the team from the salary cap’s second apron.

“Like when you’re in a relationship — like I’ve been married for a while now. I’ve been with my wife since high school — there’s certain things that sometimes you have to do,” James said Sunday. “…You have to understand in a relationship, in order for a relationship to work … both sides have to work.

“Me being able to be in a situation where I can protect the franchise under the second apron, understanding this new thing is very hard on a lot of teams as far as them trying to get better and whatever the case may be. I’m, I’ve been in a relationship with the Lakers going on seven years. I’m absolutely OK with [taking a pay cut].”

By staying under the second apron, the Lakers are able to be more flexible in the ways they can improve the roster, maybe most importantly giving the franchise the ability to trade multiple players for one player, though they still cannot take back more money than they send out in a deal.

James praised his experience with Team USA on the second day of training camp.

“For us to be on the same team, it’s like surreal,” James said . “Like anytime I see a clip, like if I go on social media and I see a clip of us walking into the building … I was like, man, that’s just crazy.”

Read more: Lakers’ stagnant offseason doesn’t worry Anthony Davis

“Us” in this case is a roster that’s rivaling the original Dream Team, with James joined by Olympic veterans Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis while bridging things with younger American stars such as Devin Booker, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton.

“We don’t step on their toes and nothing of that nature, but we just hope that we continue to set a standard for them of what excellence is all about because they’re already excellent,” James said. “And see if they can just carry it on and be great as long as they want to be too.

“So I hope we just we’re just setting the standards for them.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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