James came out aggressive dropping 31 at halftime, but unfortunately did not receive much from the supporting cast to keep their season alive. LA’s “cinderella” story has come to a close and now fans have to worry about James (potentially) retiring.
LeBron says he has a lot to think about regarding his NBA future. pic.twitter.com/89zXlIrFyk
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 23, 2023
The four-time NBA champion ended his postgame conference with a cryptic message, making the Laker faithful question the future of this team moving forward. Shortly after, NBA insider Chris Haynes revealed that retirement is on the table for the nineteen time All-Star.
BREAKING: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is unsure if he’ll be with team when 2023-24 season starts in fall and retirement is under consideration, league sources tell @NBAonTNT, @BleacherReport. https://t.co/7M3WuEzwOL
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 23, 2023
James’ return to the team next fall is in question and so is the roster with only a few players under contract next season. James has been seemingly dealing with a right foot issue all year and missing extended time late in the season.
One can assume surgery is on the table because James revealed that he tore a ligament in his foot. Playing extended minutes to get to the playoffs, and postseason did not bode well for that injury as well.
On Monday morning, New York Knicks legend and former Laker, Carmelo Anthony announced his retirement from the game. Thus, leaving James the last active player from the 2003 draft class. Now, that might be the case for a while longer.
Some fans/insiders are speculating this is a ploy to get General Manager Rob Pelinka to push all the chips to the table for one more chance at a ring or James will retire if he deems the team is not a championship contender. Fingers pointing to pending free agent guard, Kyrie Irving. Infamous teammate with James on the Cleveland Cavaliers and this will be part three of the Irving to LA saga, third time is the charm?
I'd bet on LeBron's comments in part being a negotiation tactic: I'll retire unless you go all-in next season. And the player James probably wants the Lakers to acquire is Kyrie Irving. https://t.co/AaLKDRFfnd
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 23, 2023
With up and down play of guard D’Angelo Russell, it feels like that starting point guard spot is in question, and some uncertainty to bring back the former Buckeye.
Irving and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young were in attendance last night and now Young is rumored to be a trade piece that the Laker front office is looking at. With two starting caliber and All-Star level point guards being targeted less than 24 hours after being eliminated, Russell may not be the long-term fit.
The Lakers' desire for a third star is known. And while Kyrie Irving remains the preference, other options are being explored.
Los Angeles has internally discussed the possibility of acquiring Trae Young, league sources tell @jovanbuha.
More potential offseason moves:
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 23, 2023
Will James Retire?
In what fans would be a simple offseason of bringing everyone back and rolling with this same team again next fall, there is now uncertainty with 38-year-old James and if this current team is up to his liking to get arguably his last chance at a ring next year.
In the five years of being a Laker, James has only played sixty plus games once and that was when COVID-19 shut down the NBA for a few months. Every year there has been a nagging injury for the King and this may be the reality as we near the finish line.
Lakers season results since signing LeBron James:
2019 – missed playoffs
2020- Championship in Bubble
2021 – lost to Phoenix in 1st round
2022 – missed play-in
2023 – swept by Denver in WCF
How would you describe the LeBron Laker’s era? pic.twitter.com/SBkWIWAUdO
— Guru (@DrGuru_) May 23, 2023
To end the 2022-23 season James averaged 28.9 points, 6.8 assists, 8.3 rebounds, shooting 50% from the field and 32% from three.
LBJ needs some time away from the game after the true roller coaster of a year he’s had with a roster haul more than halfway through the year. James usually strategically saves up for the playoffs but had to push the envelope to get this team a chance in the play-in.
While not at 100%, playing high minutes, the suspicion would be that he spends time reflecting and healing that foot (surgery or not) and coming back next year. James seems like someone who wants a farewell tour and does not want to end his career getting swept. Until then, Laker fans will be on “LeBron watch” when he makes his announcement about suiting up next season.