Mere moments after the Los Angeles Lakers season ended, LeBron James dropped a bombshell. In a press conference after Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, James made cryptic comments about having a lot to think about going forward with basketball. Soon after, it was reported that James is contemplating retirement.
If LeBron were to retire, the Lakers’ initial offseason plans would be thrown out of the window. General manager Rob Pelinka is offering support and communication for whatever James decides to do, but it’s no secret his job becomes more difficult if LeBron doesn’t return.
However, it seems unlikely LeBron will actually retire. Early rumors indicate that he will be back for his 21st season. That seems to be how the Lakers feel too, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha:
Based on conversations I’ve had over the past week or so, I’d say there’s about a 10 percent chance LeBron James isn’t back as a Laker next season, either due to retirement or playing for another team. Everyone with and around the team I’ve spoken to believes he’s returning.
James’ recent Instagram story, in which he stated, “I’m suppose to be #1 on everybody list/We’ll see what happens when I no longer exist,” referencing lyrics from Jay-Z’s “What More Can I Say,” was intriguing. Remember: Jay-Z announced he was retiring, only to return a few years later and make multiple albums since then. Could James be hinting he needs a break? Maybe a year away from the game, only to return to play alongside his son, Bronny, in 2024-25? That could be the case.
But the assumption remains that James will return. The Lakers are approaching this offseason as if he’ll be a part of the 2023-24 squad.
LeBron still has one year left on his contract before a player option for the 2024-25 season. Depending on the outcome of his son Bronny James’ first season at USC, LeBron could opt out of his deal and then sign with whatever team drafts Bronny.
It’s still unclear what the Lakers’ offseason plans are, but acquiring a secondary ball handler may be helpful to limit LeBron’s load. Retaining Austin Reaves fills that need and 10 open roster spots means there will be plenty to work with. But, most importantly, making sure James will return is the main priority.
LeBron shares thoughts on being named to 19th straight All-NBA Team
Calling it quits or not, LeBron is still among the best players in the league. He was named to his 19th consecutive All-NBA team last season, extending his record for most appearances. LeBron expressed his gratitude for the achievement.
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