Moments after the Los Angeles Lakers season-ending loss against the Denver Nuggets Monday night, LeBron James hinted at contemplating retirement. He ended his post-game press conference in a cryptic fashion, saying he has “a lot to think about” regarding playing basketball.
The comments from LeBron came out of nowhere and will dominate the off-season headlines. It also doesn’t add up when looking at recent retirement thoughts from James.
In December, Dennis Schroder said LeBron told him he wants to play until he’s 45. James has also previously mentioned that his final season in the NBA will be when he plays with his son Bronny on a team. Bronny is draft eligible in 2024, a year before LeBron has a player option with the Lakers. That timeline means James would have to play a final year in L.A. before opting out of his deal to join whoever drafts Bronny.
Whether or not LeBron decides to retire this offseason, Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham will support him no matter what during their conversations.
“Coach and I will speak to LeBron in the coming days,” Pelinka said at his season-ending press conference. “We all know he speaks for himself. And we look forward to those conversations when the time is right. I will say this: LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who’s ever played. When you do that, you earn a right to decide whether you’re going to give more,” Pelinka said. “Sometimes we put athletes, entertainers on a pedestal, but they’re humans. They have inflection points in their careers.
“Our job as a Lakers organization is to support any player on our team if they reach a career inflection point. LeBron is surrounded by incredible people. His family first, Savannah, his kids. He’s got a great management team led by Rich and Maverick. I’m sure he’ll have conversations with them in the coming days. We’ll be in contact with him, his team, and really providing nothing but support for him. Obviously, our hope would be that his career continues, but we just want to give him the time to have that inflection point and support him along the way in everything he does.”
Pelinka and Ham emphasized during exit interviews on Tuesday that they will give LeBron all the time he needs and he deserves to make whatever decision.
It’s unclear if James has actually given thought about retiring or if he said something in the heat of the moment after a season-ending loss. Ham even joked on Tuesday that he was ready to retire after the loss because of how much prep they put in. As calculated as he is, It’s difficult to imagine LeBron would just put something out there, however.
Rob Pelinka to prioritize roster continuity and keeping core together
With 10 free agents entering the offseason, the Lakers will have important decisions to make. Pelinka, however, emphasized that they will prioritize roster continuity and keeping together the core that was molded through trades.
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