Brian Windhorst on why he thinks LeBron James will opt out of his contract

Regardless of what the Los Angeles Lakers accomplish or don’t accomplish this spring in the postseason, this offseason will be a pivotal one for them.

They have a very good roster that is seen as one or two pieces short of being championship-caliber, and as a result, they’re expected to try to trade for a third star.

At the same time, LeBron James can opt out of his current contract in order to either re-up with the Lakers or go join another team in free agency. Everything else the Purple and Gold do this summer will likely hinge on what he decides.

There seems to be a growing belief that James will ultimately remain put. Brian Windhorst, who has covered him since his high school days in Akron, Ohio, believes he will opt out in order to obtain a no-trade clause (h/t Lakers Daily).

“I think LeBron’s gonna opt out no matter what,” Windhorst said. “And the reason I think he’s gonna opt out no matter what is even if he just signs back for one year, the only functional way for LeBron to get a no-trade clause is to sign a new contract. If he extends the contract he’s in or picks up that option, extends onto it, he can’t get a no-trade clause. And I think for a number of different reasons, LeBron would like, ask for and probably be granted a no-trade clause.”

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but it isn’t unheard of for a player such as James to have one in his contract. Late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had one, and it may have kept him in the fold after he infamously demanded a trade in 2007.

Two teams did actually try to trade for James a couple of months ago: the Golden State Warriors, who actually tried to convince Rich Paul, his agent, to facilitate a deal, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

James is still one of the best and most productive players in basketball, even at age 39, and it doesn’t look like he will greatly decline any time soon. Staying with the Lakers would be helpful for both parties, both on and off the court.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire