After another slow start to the season by the Los Angeles Lakers, General Manager Rob Pelinka and the rest of the franchise’s brass were able to overturn the roster before the trade deadline this past year, bringing in a better-fitting supporting cast to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis lead an 18-9 run from February 3, 2023 to the end of the regular season to secure the seventh seed in the Western Conference and a bid in the Play-In Tournament.
The Lakers continued their momentum from there, winning their way into the playoffs, dispatching the two-seed Memphis Grizzlies with relative ease, and preventing another repeat by the twilight-age Golden State Warriors dynasty before ultimately getting ousted out of the postseason by the top-seeded Denver Nuggets.
While the Western Conference Finals ended in a true sweep, nearly every game was competitive, and the largest margin in any of the Lakers’ losses to the Nuggets was only by 11 points.
And yet, following his defeat to the hands of former two-time Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, LeBron James seemed more defeated in his postgame press conference than the NBA world has seen from him possibly ever.
In fact, he even entertained the idea of retirement. After years of openly expressing his wishes to share an NBA court with his oldest son, Bronny, it seems implausible that James might retire just one year ahead of his eldest’s draft eligibility.
LeBron had worked tirelessly to make this dream a possible reality, lining up his contracts in a way that he held a player option for the 2024-2025 season, giving him the ability to opt-out, become a free agent, and sign with whichever team was willing to spend one of their draft picks on his son in the 2024 NBA Draft.
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There is the possibility that James retires, forces the Lakers to buy him out of his remaining contract, and then sign with whichever team drafts Bronny anyways, although, that would certainly be a bad look for his public image.
There’s also the chance that this is just a carefully crafted narrative point for the documentary that he’s currently reportedly shooting. And, of course, this could just be the honest reflection of a man that people have come to see as a King, a chink in his armor.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see James get offseason surgery, fully recover, and dominate the league once again, leaving this whole speculation about retirement behind him.
Could LeBron James really retire?
His decision, of course, alters the trajectory of the Lakers.
But it’s far from the only question looming over their offseason, @jovanbuha writes.https://t.co/N4F9ceFbjL pic.twitter.com/AoDdVCIHiE
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) May 24, 2023
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| Title: Could LeBron James actually retire this summer?
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: May 23, 2023