LeBron James’ 20th NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers ended with an unceremonious sweep out of the playoffs. The 38-year-old basketball legend is now considering retirement. After scoring 40 points in the Lakers’ 113-111 Game 4 loss to the Denver Nuggets, James made his way down the ramp to exit the arena, not knowing if that would be the last time he would make that walk as an active player.
In a news conference after the game, James told reporters, “going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.” When asked to elaborate on his statement, James told ESPN that he would consider retiring in the offseason. When pressed for details, he said, “If I want to continue to play,” and when asked if he would walk away, he replied, “I got to think about it.”
James led the No. 7-seeded Lakers to the Western Conference finals, playing all 17 of L.A.’s postseason games, including the play-in win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite managing a right foot injury that caused him to miss a month straight late in the regular season because of a torn tendon, James played through the playoffs.
He heard a pop when he injured his foot against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26. Several medical professionals recommended surgery, but he found a doctor he described as “the LeBron James of feet” who assured him he could rehabilitate the injury and return to the court without a procedure. James said he would get an MRI on his foot to see how the tendon had healed and go from there.
James’ Future Plans and Aspirations
James has one season remaining on his contract with the Lakers, worth $46.7 million for 2023-24, and a player option for the following season worth $50.4 million. He has repeatedly stated that his goal is to play with his oldest son, Bronny, in the league before he retires. However, he recently softened his stance, saying, “I’ve done what I’ve had to do in this league, and my son is going to take his journey.”
A source close to James told ESPN that L.A.’s postseason run was taxing on the Lakers star in various ways. It involved long flights and physical play in the Memphis series, emotional and mental fatigue in the Golden State series, and then, against Denver, giving everything he had left to give and still losing the series 4-0.
When informed by ESPN about James’ postgame comments following Monday’s loss, Anthony Davis, who is under contract with the Lakers for next season, was surprised at first but later recalled a recent conversation he had with James. Davis told James he “might have one more in me” when talking about the 2024 Olympics in Paris, to which James replied that he might already be done by then.
For now, James will have time to think about his future plans and aspirations. He will get his foot checked out and see how the Lakers look for next season to decide if he will play season No. 21. Although James is contemplating retirement, he still believes that a full summer of rehab could get him back to the player he was before his foot injury, saying, “Because I’m still better than 90% of the NBA.”
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