After a disappointing exit from the Western Conference Finals at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James left the press conference with a cryptic message, leaving the future of his career in question.
“Personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about,” James said.
The Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the conference finals despite James’ outstanding efforts in Game 4. In their two-point loss on Monday, James played in all but four seconds of the game, finishing with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
With James leading the way, the Lakers managed to upset the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the semifinals but ultimately were unable to get past the top-seeded Nuggets.
James’ words have left the basketball world speculating on what his future may hold. The four-time MVP is set to enter his 21st season and will turn 39 in December. Retirement may be on the horizon, but James may still have plenty of game left in him.
This past season, James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and earned his 19th selection to the All-NBA and All-Star Teams. He averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game while leading the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals.
Despite his outstanding play, James expressed frustration with his inability to be as available as he would like to be. Injuries have been an ongoing concern for the aging superstar.
The Lakers’ roster will undoubtedly undergo changes in the offseason, and James’ future with the team is uncertain. James’ deal with the Lakers includes a massive two-year, $97 million contract extension that hasn’t even kicked in yet.
If James were to retire this offseason, he would lose the entirety of that recent extension. However, James’ contract doesn’t include a no-trade clause, meaning the Lakers could potentially ship him out of town if they deemed it necessary.
The Lakers’ general manager, Rob Pelinka, will have to navigate a delicate balance of building a championship contender while also considering James’ future, as well as that of his younger teammate Anthony Davis.
James has accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish in his illustrious career, including four championships, four MVP awards, and numerous other individual accolades.
But retirement may not be the only thing on James’ mind this offseason. He has also expressed a desire to play with his son, Bronny, who is currently a high school student and cannot enter the NBA until after the 2024 draft.
James’ potential retirement would leave him only a few years to play alongside his son, but as he said, “I’ve got a lot to think about.”
Regardless of what James ultimately decides, his place in basketball history is secure. He has joined the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and others as one of the game’s greatest players.
And as he considers his future, James can take solace in the fact that he has nothing left to prove on the court. He has already cemented his place as one of basketball’s all-time greats.