The Los Angeles Lakers bosses would certainly like to see superstar LeBron James back for another season in the NBA.
Less than 24 hours ago, the Lakers’ season came to an end when they lost a fourth straight game to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals. After Game 4, James told reporters that he would have to think about his future in basketball.
The four-time NBA champion later explained, saying that he will consider retiring during the offseason.
«I have to think about it,» James said.
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James did not show up for the Lakers’ postseason media exit interviews on Tuesday, but his absence was magnified considering he only hinted that he might leave.
But Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and coach Darvin Ham said they plan to speak with James in the near future about his plans for next season.
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«We all know that [James] It speaks for itself, and we look forward to those conversations when the time is right,» Pelinka said. «LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who’s ever played. When you do that, you earn the right to decide if you’re going to give more. … Obviously our hope would be for his career to continue, but we want to give him time to have that turning point and support him along the way.»
Even at 38, James is still one of the best players in the league. On Monday night, he produced an impressive 40-point performance, 31 in the first half.
«After a tough loss like that, the work we’ve put in this season, I think I was ready to retire after last night as well,» Ham joked.
James’ lingering foot injury, which may require offseason surgery to fully correct, may have influenced his postgame comments. He was sidelined for the final month of the regular season, but returned to fitness just before the postseason began.
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«When there’s an injury, you seek multiple medical opinions, and there were some who questioned whether he would be able to play again this season,» Pelinka said.
«For him to finish the season by playing virtually 48 minutes and recording a virtual 40-point triple-double as a player in the 20th year of his NBA career is amazing… He clearly has the right recipe, because going from doctor The opinions who say your season may be over to end the way it did last night are impressive.»
The Lakers’ roster features a fair amount of young players on short-term contracts. But Pelinka noted that he considers James and Anthony Davis to be the mainstays of the roster.
Moves by the Lakers’ front office just before the trade deadline helped the team finish the regular season 18-8. LA then advanced to the conference finals after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the Golden State Warriors in the conference semifinals.
But two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray proved too much for the Lakers to get past in the conference finals.
«Ultimately we were eliminated by a team that has great continuity,» Pelinka said. «They have a group of players who have been together for several seasons and it shows in the way they play. We feel like we have special players in the locker room who enjoy playing against each other. We know there is more growth and improvement in that group, especially if we do a training camp together.»
One player Pelinka will prioritize for re-signing is Austin Reaves, who had a great 2022-23 season.
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Reaves and Rui Hachimura are restricted free agents, but the Lakers’ most prominent unrestricted free agent is point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Russell played well during his second stint in Los Angeles in the regular season. But his game faltered once the playoffs began and he was eventually benched.