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LeBron James Inks 2-Year, $97.1 Million Deal with Lakers

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension through the 2024-25 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent announced Wednesday.

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul said the league-maximum deal makes James the highest-paid player in NBA history. His new deal includes a player option that would keep the second-leading scorer in NBA history with the Lakers past his 40th birthday in December 2024.

The 37-year-old James is headed into the final year of his most recent contract with the Lakers, who signed the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and four-time league champion in July 2018. The new deal means the 18-time All-Star will make $46.7 million this season.

Barring injury, James is likely to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s career scoring king this winter. James and the Lakers also still hope to be in contention for another title if James and Anthony Davis can return at full health after an injury-plagued 2021-22 ended without a playoff appearance.

James’ new deal syncs with Davis’ most recent contract extension with the Lakers, allowing both to leave the Lakers or to negotiate new deals in 2024. Both superstars are represented by Klutch.

James’ recommitment to the Lakers also silences persistent talk of his possible departure as a free agent or in a trade. James hasn’t appeared to be going anywhere on social media or in his public appearances, and he praised the hiring of new Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

James has missed significant portions of the season due to injury in three of his four years with the Lakers. He was largely healthy in the elongated 2019-20 season when the Lakers won the franchise’s 17th NBA title in the Florida bubble, and he has been every bit the dominant player of his prime when at full strength in the ensuing two years.

Although his contract status inspired plenty of offseason chatter, James seemed unlikely to relocate after spending the past four seasons of his 19-year career with the storied Lakers. His family is settled in Los Angeles, where his eldest son, Bronny, is a 17-year-old senior and college basketball prospect playing at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth.

James has occasionally said he intends to play on the same team with Bronny when his son reaches the NBA. Although plenty of obstacles remain between the younger James and the NBA, he could be draft-eligible in the summer of 2024.

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Orlando Magic Select Caleb Houstan in the Second Round (32nd Overall) of 2022 NBA Draft

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Michigan basketball wing Caleb Houstan was a five-star recruit in the class of 2021. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic have selected forward Caleb Houstan in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Houstan (6’8”, 205, 1/9/03) played and started in all 34 games last season as a freshman at the University of Michigan, averaging 10.1 ppg., 4.0 rpg. and 1.4 apg. in 32.1 minpg., while shooting .355 (60-169) from three-point range. He led the Wolverines in three-point field goals made. Houstan scored in double figures 17 times and had 20+ points twice. He had ten games with 3+ three-pointers made and four games with 4+ three-pointers. Houstan was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the period ending Jan. 24 and helped Michigan reach the Sweet Sixteen during the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive time.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Houstan graduated from Montverde Academy in Montverde, FL. As a senior (2020-21), he was named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Houstan was also named a 2021 McDonald’s All-American, a Naismith Second Team All-American and to the Sports Illustrated All-American Third Team.

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Orlando Magic Select Paolo Banchero with the First Overall Pick of 2022 NBA Draft

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The Orlando Magic have selected Paolo Banchero in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Photo via NBC Chicago.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic have selected forward Paolo Banchero (pronounced pow-loh ban-CARE-oh) in the first round (first overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Banchero (6’10”, 250, 11/12/02) played and started in all 39 games last season as a freshman at Duke University, averaging 17.2 ppg., 7.8 rpg., 3.2 apg. and 1.05 stlpg. in 33.0 minpg., while shooting .478 (245-513) from the floor. He led all true freshmen in the nation in scoring. Banchero led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding, while ranking second in minutes played. He also ranked fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding and sixth in the conference in scoring.

Banchero was named Second Team All-America by the NABC and USBWA, while being a Third Team All-America selection by The Associated Press and The Sporting News. Among his many accolades, he was one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding player, and one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. Banchero was named to the All-ACC First Team, the ACC All-Freshmen Team and was the ACC Freshman of the Year. He was also named to the ACC All-Tournament Team, the NCAA All-Tournament Team and the NCAA West Region’s Most Outstanding Player, leading Duke to the 2022 NCAA Final Four.

While at O’Dea High School in Seattle, WA, Banchero led the team to the Class 3A state championship as a sophomore (2018-19) and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. As a junior (2019-20), he was named Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year, a MaxPreps Junior All-American and the MaxPreps National Junior Player of the Year. Despite his senior season being postponed due to the pandemic, Banchero was named a 2021 McDonald’s All-American, a Naismith First Team All-American and a Sports Illustrated All-American.

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Orlando’s Franz Wagner Named to 2021-22 Kia NBA All-Rookie First Team

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FILE - Franz Wagner dunks the ball during the Orlando Magic's home match against the Atlanta Hawks at Amway Center December 18, 2021. (Photo: Harry Castiblanco, Florida National News.)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner has been named to the 2021-22 Kia NBA All-Rookie First Team, the league announced tonight. He received 84 out of a possible 100 First Team votes.

Wagner becomes the tenth player in franchise history to be named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and the first since 2014-15. He joins Dennis Scott (1990-91), Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93), Anfernee Hardaway (1993-94), Matt Harpring (1998-99), Mike Miller (2000-01), Drew Gooden (2002-03), Dwight Howard (2004-05), Victor Oladipo (2013-14) and Elfrid Payton (2014-15).

Wagner (6’10”, 220, 8/27/01) played and started in 79 games this season with Orlando, averaging 15.2 ppg., 4.5 rpg. and 2.9 apg. in 32.7 minpg., while shooting a Magic-rookie record .863 (189-219) from the free throw line (ranked 24th overall in the NBA). He led all NBA rookies in games played, games started, total points scored and free throw percentage, while ranking second in total minutes played. Wagner also ranked among all rookies in points per game (4th), rebounds per game (10th), assists per game (7th), field goal percentage (7th, .468), three-point field goal percentage (9th, .354), steals per game (9th) and minutes played per game (6th).

Wagner became only the ninth rookie in NBA history, and the first since 1992-93, to average at least 15.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg. and 2.5 apg., while shooting at least .460 from the floor and .800 from the free throw line. Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Walter Davis (1977-78), Larry Bird (1979-80), Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson (1979-80), Michael Jordan (1984-85), Mitch Richmond (1988-89), Larry Johnson (1991-92) and Christian Laettner (1992-93) are the only other players to record those numbers during their rookie seasons.

Selected in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2021 NBA Draft, Wagner led (or tied) Orlando in scoring 17 times, in rebounding three times and in assists nine times. He scored in double figures a team-high 64 times, 20+ points 17 times and 30+ points once, including a career-high 38 points on Dec. 28 vs. Milwaukee. Wagner had 10+ rebounds twice, a career-high 11 rebounds on Dec. 18 @ Brooklyn and Jan. 19 @ Philadelphia and dished out 10+ assists once, a career-high 10 assists on Jan. 12 @ Washington. He was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December 2021 and participated in the Rising Stars event during 2022 NBA All-Star in Cleveland.

Wagner was joined on the First Team by Scottie Barnes (Toronto), Cade Cunningham (Detroit), Jalen Green (Houston) and Evan Mobley (Cleveland).

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