Lakers to speak with LeBron James in the coming days

LA Lakers to speak with LeBron James in the coming days about his future after Nuggets sweep as they ‘hope’ he decides to continue in the NBA

  • James scored 41 points, including 31 in the first half, as the Lakers were swept 
  • In a surprise to most, James spoke about the possibility of retiring postgame 
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The Los Angeles Lakers will talk to LeBron James in the coming days and hope he will continue with them despite saying he would consider retirement during the offseason following the team’s playoff exit. 

James said after his team were eliminated by Denver from the Western Conference finals late on Monday in the minimum four games that he had a lot to think about regarding his basketball future. 

The 38-year-old has skipped his team’s postseason media exit interviews before, but his decision to do so Tuesday left Lakers fans hanging about his intentions after the enigmatic postgame comments.

‘LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who’s ever played. When you do that, you earn a right to decide whether you’re going to give more,’ said general manager Rob Pelinka.

‘We’ll be in contact with him, his team, and really providing nothing but support for him. Obviously, our hope would be that his career continues, but we want to give him the time to have that inflection point and support him along the way.’

LeBron James offered an ambiguous response to questions regarding his future in the NBA

James and the Los Angeles Lakers were swept by the Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets Monday night

Despite James’ 40-point performance, including a career playoff-best 31 points in the first half, the seventh-seeded Lakers were swept by the top-seeded Nuggets with a 113-111 defeat in Game 4 on Monday night, ending James’ attempt to win his fifth career championship in his 20th NBA season. 

Lakers coach Darvin Ham provided reporters with a laugh during the end of season media conference.

‘Coming off a tough loss like that, the work we´ve put in this season, I think I was ready to retire after last night, too,’ he said. 

James’ admission that he is considering retirement came as a surprise given the four-time NBA champion still plays at a high level and has previously expressed a desire to play with his eldest son in the pros, a possibility that could not happen until the 2024-25 season.

Pelinka said he hopes to keep much of the Lakers’ current core around James and Anthony Davis, calling roster continuity “a high priority” after several years of major annual changes. But the GM also reiterated that he considers James and Davis to be the pillars of his roster, and James’ presence is vital to their hopes of continuing the progress they’ve made since February.

Los Angeles was one of the NBA’s best teams after making several moves at the trade deadline, going 18-8 to end the regular season even without James. The Lakers then made an impressive run to the conference finals, knocking off second-seeded Memphis and defending champion Golden State, but ran out of steam against the powerhouse Nuggets.

The Lakers currently have five players under contract for next season, including James, but several key contributors to their playoff run are free agents. 

Los Angeles has the roster flexibility to make major moves, but Pelinka wants to keep this group together. 

The 38-year-old was denied by the Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon on the final possession in the loss

Pelinka made it clear he intends to do everything possible to re-sign Austin Reaves, the undrafted second-year pro who seized a starting job and effectively became the Lakers’ No. 3 offensive option.

Reaves and Rui Hachimura are restricted free agents, but Pelinka intends to retain both. 

The Lakers’ most prominent unrestricted free agent is D’Angelo Russell, who had several outstanding performance after his trade-deadline return to Los Angeles, but struggled badly enough in the playoffs to lose his starting job in Game 4.

Dennis Schröder, the veteran point guard who filled multiple roles for Los Angeles and eventually replaced Russell, is also an unrestricted free agent along with big man Wenyen Gabriel.

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