LOS ANGELES, California – Rob Pelinka, the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, expressed optimism on Tuesday that LeBron James would continue playing basketball but claimed that the NBA superstar has “earned the right” to retire.
When James, 38, told ESPN that he was thinking of ending his illustrious 20-season NBA career, the basketball world was taken aback.
In the Lakers’ 113 to 111 loss to the Nuggets, who completed a 4 to 0 sweep of the 17-time champions, he made his remarks following a 40-point performance. The Nuggets then went on to win the NBA Finals.
Given that James signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers last August, LeBron’s hint about his impending retirement seemed to catch many people off guard, including the team’s management.
James will meet with the Lakers’ general manager and head coach, Darvin Ham, soon to discuss his future. Pelinka stressed that the team would back James in whatever path he took.
In the coming days, Coach and I will communicate with LeBron, Pelinka promised.
James may have come to an “inflection point” in his career, according to Pelinka.
Ham agreed with Pelinka’s assessment of James, applauding him for his contributions to the Lakers’ turnaround from a catastrophic 2 to 10 start to a deep playoff run.
Pelinka stated that the Lakers planned to continue using the majority of their squad while they built for the future.
So, Will “King James” relinquish the NBA throne?
A worn-out, sincere admission that the best career in NBA history might be coming to an end?
Or is it a premeditated action meant to encourage the Los Angeles Lakers to bolster their roster?
The “King” of basketball, LeBron James, shocked the sport by declaring he was thinking of retiring the day before. Now, analysts disagree on whether the “King” is indeed ready to abdicate his reign.
On Monday, when Denver finished a 4 to 0 series sweep of the 17-time champion Los Angeles Lakers to advance to the NBA Finals.
In his postgame news conference, LeBron responded to the loss in an uncharacteristically cryptic manner as he pondered on the season’s ups and downs, which saw the Lakers become title contenders despite a disastrous 2 to 10 start.
James remarked, “At this point in my career, I don’t play for anything other than winning championships.
James made it plain that retirement was seriously being considered in comments to an ESPN reporter after the press conference.
When asked what he intended to “think about” in the offseason, James responded, “If I want to continue to play.”
James had previously made public pronouncements about how he saw the remainder of his playing career, so this stunning disclosure represented a significant change.
In August of last year, he signed a lucrative two-year agreement with the Lakers that keeps him with the team until the conclusion of the 2024 to 2025 NBA season.
He finished the regular season with an amazing average of 28.9 points per game over 55 games despite an injury-interrupted schedule that included Monday’s brilliant game-four performance.
LeBron did, however, suggest after 20 years, the NBA season’s demanding schedule—citing the “bus rides and plane rides”—might be losing its allure. It’s difficult, he remarked.
ESPN commentator and former NBA player J.J. Redick suggested that the remarks may have been made to let the Lakers front management know that the team needed to be strengthened.
Redick remarked, “I believe there’s always a point as an athlete when you kind of begin to question your own athletic mortality. By encouraging rumors about his future, LeBron was, according to ESPN writer Brian Windhorst, “basically sending a message” to the Lakers.
James will remain in the NBA, according to analyst Stephen A. Smith, in order to fulfill his desire to play beside his son.
Smith, though, claimed James was trying to express his displeasure with the Lakers’ lineup.