NBA Rumors: LeBron James ‘Focused’ On Returning To Lakers This Offseason
LeBron James, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has a decision to make this offseason. He has a player option worth $51.4 million, meaning he could either opt in to that and have one more year under contract with the Lakers, or he could decline that option, test free agency and still return to the Lakers for even more money if he so chooses.

The second option is far more likely and may include some stressful moments for L.A. James has not given hints one way or the other that this could be his final season in L.A.

During his final seasons with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, there were signs that he was unhappy and looking to move on in the offseason. Here, he’s taken things day by day as the Lakers have struggled to find rhythm all season long.

But in the first real reports about James’ free agency, it seems his priority is sticking around with the Lakers on a new contract. However, two teams — the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors — are going to pursue the Hall of Famer, according to Adrian Wojanrowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If James returns to the Lakers, he’ll likely do so by declining that option and re-signing with L.A. on a new deal that would allow him an annual raise. James remains focused on returning to the Lakers in the offseason, sources told ESPN, but undoubtedly there will be many of these same suitors — including Golden State and Philadelphia — looking to convince James otherwise.

At this stage, the only reason for James to leave the Lakers would be to join his son, Bronny James, if he wound up on a different team after this year’s NBA Draft. But it’s unclear where, if at all, Bronny is going to get drafted, meaning the Lakers could simply snag him in the second round or as an undrafted free agent. But that’s not going to stop the Warriors or 76ers.

James would be a perfect fit at either of those destinations. For the Warriors, it would be one last Hail Mary attempt at keeping the Stephen Curry era alive. It could potentially work as James and Curry would be an immaculate basketball pairing.

It would be excellent for the 76ers, as well, who could put James with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey to create a big three where everyone has a unique and individual skill set. But, at the end of the day, what remains the most likely is that James is a Laker.

Warriors tried to trade for LeBron James at deadline

The Warriors were not shy in their pursuit of James, as they reportedly tried to land the 39-year-old superstar from the Lakers at the trade deadline to try and salvage the 2023-24 season. Reportedly, Jeanie Buss was not open to the idea of trading him, but wanted to do right by the superstar by asking his agent, Rich Paul, how he would feel about a trade.

Paul was emphatic in his denial of any trade possibility. Paul was adamant that James wanted to remain a Laker and therefore any trade idea would be shot down.

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