After being swept for just the third time in his career on Monday, LeBron James will head into the offseason with all possibilities open, including even reportedly retirement. LeBron delivered the cryptic postgame quotes, but it was Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report who reported that retirement is on the table for the 38-year-old.
Lakers star LeBron James is uncertain if he’ll be with the team when the 2023-24 season starts in the fall, and retirement is under consideration, league sources tell Bleacher Report, TNT.
LeBron has a lot to weigh, sources say.
James is expected to take his time in deciding if he’ll return for Year 21. He has two years, $97 million remaining on his contract, but the final year is a player option.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN also spoke to LeBron after his postgame presser to get more clarification on his comments.
LeBron James to ESPN on his thought process going into the offseason:— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 23, 2023
Q: When you say you got to think about stuff, what thread should we be pulling on that?
A: "If I want to continue to play."
Q: As in next year?
Q: You would walk away?
A: "I got to think about it."
The quotes themselves from LeBron did raise some eyebrows, and clearly rightfully so, Here were the notable quotes postgame from LeBron to close out his presser after falling to the Nuggets.
“But I don’t know. I don’t know. I think it was okay,” LeBron said. “I don’t like to say it’s a successful year because I don’t play for anything besides winning championships at this point in my career. You know, I don’t get a kick out of making a Conference [Finals] appearance. I’ve done it, a lot. And it’s not fun to me to not be able to be a part of getting to the Finals.
“But we’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens going forward. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve got a lot to think about to be honest. I’ve got a lot to think about to be honest. Just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.”
This all comes on a night when LeBron turned back the clock unlike he had at any point this postseason to attempt to avoid being swept. A clearly-exhausted LeBron scored 40 points, 31 of those coming in the first half, to do everything he could. With the game and season on the line, it was LeBron unable to gather up enough in the tank to get a shot off as the final buzzer sounded.
While those comments should raise eyebrows, it would truly be shocking if LeBron just walked away. For a number of reasons, it’s hard to believe this would be it for LeBron. No retirement tour, no final game farewell, just....retirement.
But at 38 years old, LeBron James doesn’t have many more of these games, postseason runs and seasons as a whole left in him and retirement threats inherently hold weight to them. However, this feels like an attempt at a power play by LeBron, a familiar move by him.
And knowing how he feels about Kyrie Irving, who was in attendance for Lakers games multiple times this postseason including in Game 4, this certainly feels like how you would force the Lakers to trade for him. After failing to get him at the trade deadline, it looks like LeBron is going to force the Lakers to at least try to get him again.
In previous years, LeBron would use the threats of a one-plus-one deal to hold front offices accountable. That isn’t an option right now, but potential retirement is.
Now, having said all that, there could be some bluffs the Lakers call on LeBron. He spent years and years declaring his desire to play with his son, Bronny, and now would retire just one year away from that becoming a reality? That feels hard to believe. Two weeks ago, he said he’s still “serious” about playing with Bronny after he committed to USC.
The Lakers will likely sniff around on Kyrie and investigate a trade. The logistics of acquiring him in a sign-and-trade means they hard-cap themselves, opening up a whole host of other issues. Realistically, acquiring him in a sign-and-trade with LeBron and Anthony Davis means two of the three in Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, and Austin Reaves are gone. AND that’s basically the only moves you can make because, again, you’d be hard-capped.
Smarter people or those that have looked into the situation more could explain it further, but it’s still remarkably hard to acquire Kyrie outside of a mid-level exception he’s not taking or a huge pay cut he’s not going to take.
But, alas, any hint of a 38-year-old player retiring should carry at least some validity to it. Certainly, it’s setting up for a VERY interesting offseason for the Lakers.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.