LeBron James did everything possible to help his Los Angeles Lakers avoid elimination in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals Monday night.
Taking on Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, his 40-point near triple-double was not enough to avoid a clean sweep at the hands of a superior Nuggets squad at home.
Could this be the last we see of James in the NBA? Perhaps, it’s the last he’s played in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.
Chris Haynes of Turner Sports reported following Monday’s 113-111 loss that James is considering hanging them up after two brilliant decades in the NBA.
“Lakers star LeBron James is uncertain if he’ll be with the team when the 2023-24 NBA season starts in the fall, and retirement is under consideration,” report on James considering retirement.
As for the all-time great 38-year-old forward, he did not seem committed while talking to reporters following the game Monday night.
“I got a lot to think about. Just personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about,” James said.
It’s not as if James has lost much after 20 seasons in the NBA. He played 48 minutes Monday night, scoring 32 points in the first half alone. James finished the game shooting 15-of-25 from the field while adding 10 rebounds and nine assists in addition to those 40 points.
He was also absolutely brilliant in leading the Lakers from the NBA Play-In Tournament to the Western Conference Finals, including a second-round defeat of the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
- LeBron James stats (2022-23): 28.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 6.8 APG, 50% shooting, 32% 3-point
There are, however, other factors here. James’ 20 seasons in the NBA has included 10 trips to the Finals. He’s taken part in several international tournaments during that span, too. That certainly takes a toll.
As one of the most recognizable figures in North American professional sports, James has also built a lot off the court. He has his hands in several entertainment projects and might very well view this as the time to focus primarily on that.
LeBron James to take his time in making decision
As part of the aforementioned report from Haynes, it’s being noted that James won’t make a quick decision.
For a Lakers team that built everything around him, this is not an ideal scenario. NBA free agency begins in roughly six weeks. The 2023 NBA Draft is a month away. How general manager Rob Pelinka and Co. navigate through the summer would typically be dependent on James’ ultimate decision.
The four-time NBA champion has two years and $97 million remaining on his current contract. That includes a player option for the 2024-25 campaign.
Los Angeles currently has six players slated to be under contract next season. That includes only three players (James, Anthony Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt) who were in the Lakers’ rotation at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.