Why is LeBron James threatening retirement?


What LeBron James said at the end of his 13-minute press conference after the Los Angeles Lakers were swept by the Denver Nuggets on Monday night will dominate sports discussion for days to come.

“I have a lot to think about,” James said. “There was a lot to think about as we progressed through the game of basketball.”

James clarified in a digression with ESPN that it meant he was considering retirement. will he really walk away? “I have to think about it,” he said. While I believe there are four explanations for LeBron’s willingness to publicly announce that he’s considering retirement, this offseason promises an outrageous ending worth considering.

1. Lebron actual weigh retirement

He is 38 years old!he has just finished his work 20th season.he logged in 65,000 minutes. He is the all-time leading scorer in the NBA. And he just got a leg injury that was limiting his play. Perhaps he’s really considering switching gears and focusing on his many other pursuits.

James has a guaranteed contract with the Lakers for one season, worth $46.7 million, and a player option for next season worth $50.4 million. As such, he is giving up a large sum of money that could one day be used to bid for his NBA team.

I would be shocked if he was going to withdraw from that kind of money.and i will be equal more I would be shocked if he was going to abandon the idea of ​​playing with his son in the NBA. It’s a dream he’s been talking about for years, and now may only be one season away from becoming a reality. That leads us to the next plausible scenario.

2. LeBron may retire…for a year

If you squint your eyes, you can see something. LeBron announced his retirement and will spend the rest of the 2023-24 season watching every USC home game and courtside rooting for his son Bronnie James as he prepares for the Trojans. LeBron appears on his own TV show and appears courtside at various Lakers games. He will privately work as best he can to get him back into the NBA for the 2024-25 season.and after thatLeBron can come back 100 percent ready for his comeback and farewell.

But can LeBron really avoid another year of potential contention and return at 40?

James was asked by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin if he thought a summer of rehab would allow him to return to the player he was before his leg injury (James was much more explosive in December and January, averaging 30 points with margin to spare). exceeded by ). James nodded and said, “I’m still better than 90 percent of the NBA, so I can do it.” Maybe around 95. “

We just watched LeBron go 40-10-9 in an elimination game playing almost every second. He defended Nikola Jokic competitively. He flipped the switch on Jamal Murray and forced a 24-second violation. He flew around defensively. He led the attack and was the most scored player in a playoff game in at least 18 career seasons. LeBron is past his athletic prime, but he’s still a very valuable player and could be an important contributor to any candidate.

Yes, he’s definitely better than the NBA at 90-95 percent even in his current state. LeBron in January is still better than 99 percent of the league.

So while I’m not going to dismiss LeBron going on hiatus, I don’t think it’s the most likely of the three obvious explanations. I think this is the same blueprint we saw from him earlier.

3. LeBron is in public talks again

Reaching the Western Conference finals is a huge achievement for a rookie head coach and a mid-season restructuring team. But for LeBron? That’s not enough.

“At this point in my career, I’m not playing for anything other than to win championships,” LeBron said before hinting at retirement. “I don’t get excited about making the conference finals. I did it. A lot. It’s not fun for me.”

So why wouldn’t he use his retirement threat (his only bargaining power this summer since signing a multi-year deal last offseason) to hit the Lakers all out? Call in reinforcements. Bring on Kyrie Irving. Sign this player, trade that player. Go full throttle for the championship or retire.

The Lakers have plenty of options to upgrade their team, starting with the 17th pick in June’s draft. They could also trade their first player in 2024 or 2025 (whichever isn’t sent to the Pelicans) and 2029 or 2030. Most of their roster will be free agents. Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba’s combined unguaranteed salaries are worth $26.8 million, which could be an attractive amount to trade. D’Angelo Russell will be a free agent, so he could be a sign-and-trade option. I expect the Lakers to try to retain restricted free agents Rui Hachimura and Austin Reeves, who theoretically could also be valuable in a sign-and-trade scenario.

So will the Lakers listen? We just had a season where Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office ignored LeBron’s demands. Pelinka failed to hit any of his future first shots and even missed an opportunity to catch Kyrie after the deadline expired. Instead, he traded one protected future at the start, trading scrap with Russell, Hachimura, Beasley, Jared Vanderbilt and Bamba. Considering how far the Lakers have come since the play-in, it worked. But that fell short of LeBron’s lofty expectations, which is why rumors are already swirling from Kylie to Los Angeles.

Perhaps the Lakers will adhere to a team build centered on LeBron and Anthony Davis and aim to win the title again next season. Despite losing to the sweep, the Lakers were competitive in all four games against the Nuggets. A healthy LeBron and some reinforcements might be all it takes to close the gap enough to feel like there’s a real chance.

But what if Pelinka doesn’t thank Kylie and refuses to release his large draft fund? can. Or LeBron may ask for something he’s never done in his career: a trade.

4. LeBron Asks Warriors to Trade

How long until Draymond Green starts scouting LeBron for the Warriors? Did it happen the moment LeBron stepped off the podium on Monday night? Will it happen before the finals start next Thursday? Given Draymond’s love for LeBron, his ties to Clutch, and his recruiting history, we need no source to say that such a conversation will happen if it hasn’t already. and would not.

The interest between LeBron and the Warriors could be mutual. LeBron is best friends with Draymond and has already said Stephen Curry is the player he most wants to play with right now.from last year shopLeBron’s business partner Maverick Carter asked him to share which team he most wanted to play for, other than the Lakers, and LeBron said it would be the Warriors (or Heat).

“I like how Draymond talks to men. I want to have a hard match with Draymond,” LeBron said. shop. “I love it when someone yells at me when I’m not doing their job.” [job]. I would be happy to do that with Draymond. “

Contrast this portrayal of Draymond with Anthony Davis’s (aka AD, aka Alternative Days) power of LeBron. Davis vacillates between moments of explosive play and long periods of stagnation. The Lakers may not have made it to the West Division finals without AD, but his precarious health proved inadequate to meet LeBron’s needs offensively.

The West is now Jokic’s territory and the road to the final must go through him. AD wasn’t even the best option to protect Jokic. It was Hachimura or LeBron himself. Now that some of the Lakers’ main players are getting expensive, they won’t be West’s favorites next season either, with or without Kyrie. At best, they’ll make the playoffs again as underdogs. At worst, you risk depleting your future assets and sacrificing your long-term prospects for short-term mediocrity.

Or, if LeBron goes to Golden State for the final chapter of his career, complemented by Draymond’s defensive prowess and Steph and Klay Thompson’s offensive prowess, it could be basketball heaven.

LeBron needs teammates who make All-Star shots now more than ever. It’s clear from the postseason that he can’t run the offense alone. That’s why Kylie is a potential target in Los Angeles. But in Golden State, Steph, who is no longer at his peak, could push a little more. That’s why summer in the Golden State is so important, too. The union of Steph and LeBron seems like a match made in heaven, especially now that they’re in the twilight of their careers.

No team wants to lose a star like LeBron, but his departure from Los Angeles offers a silver lining. Pelinka’s reluctance to trade future draft money suggests the Lakers’ long-term plans to focus on future stars like Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. If LeBron wants to sell, the Lakers could keep their future assets and claim all of Golden State’s young talent, including Jordan Poole, Jonathan Cuminga, Moses Moody and a ton of picks. Following that, switching AD to either the hometown Bulls or the highest bidder and re-signing young players from their home country could help the Lakers build a youthful team and prepare for the arrival of the next megastar.

While LeBron’s departure from Los Angeles clearly marks the end of an era, it also paves the way for the next chapter of the franchise. And James could stand to win more championships alongside another legend, his former rival, in one of the greatest collaborations in NBA history.

Or maybe, just maybe, this miraculous run was just the final bow of LeBron James’ illustrious career. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

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