PHOENIX SUNS

LeBron James talks retirement after Lakers’ loss to Nuggets

May 22, 2023, 10:36 PM | Updated: 10:43 pm

LeBron James scored 40 points on 60% shooting, added 10 rebounds and nine assists, and played 48 minutes before his Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals by the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

And afterward, James left his future open — and not only by mentioning that the Lakers have so many free agents and roster questions around him.

James has two years left on his deal, and fellow star Anthony Davis is also under contract. But James finished his press conference after a peppering of questions about the Los Angeles roster by hinting that he didn’t even know his own future.

“I got a lot to think about, to be honest, and just for me personally going forward the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about,” James told reporters.

Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes and ESPN’s Dave McMenamin followed up after the podium time to clarify: Does James really not know if he’ll return in 2023-24?

The answer was “yes.”

The 38-year-old James has two years and $98 million left on his contract, though the 2024-25 season is a player option.

The 19-time All-Star and four-time NBA champion averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists in his 20th NBA season, and he also surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the league’s all-time scoring lead.

James had not hinted before at thinking about retiring this season, but the Lakers’ season of treading water before a roster-shifting trade deadline wore on James.

He’s often discussed sticking around long enough to play with his son, Bronny James, who committed to play college for the USC Trojans.

But immediately after a conference finals run that could have been rewarding but included so much stress on his part, it all seems to be under consideration.

“I don’t like to say it’s a successful year because I don’t play for anything other than winning championships at this point in my career,” he said, before making his comment about an uncertain future and walking off the podium. “I don’t get a kick out of making a conference (finals) appearance.

“Done it — a lot. It’s not fun to not be able to be a part of getting to the Finals.”

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