LeBron James is reportedly considering retirement. Can the Los Angeles Lakers convince him to stick around?
LeBron James’ historic 20th season in the NBA came to an end Monday night when the Denver Nuggets completed their 4-0 series sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Now, LA faces a summer of uncertainty. The biggest domino yet to fall: LeBron’s status for next season.
After the game, James spoke with surprising candor about his plans for 2023-24. When asked if he would consider retirement, LeBron responded with a simple “I got to think about it.”
Of course, there is more on James’ mind than simply deciding whether or not he wants to play. He went on to articulate the importance of being there for his teammates. On the heels of another injury-plagued regular season, perhaps James has reached the point where he’s no longer confident in his body holding up for 82 games. Father Time is the only undefeated figure in sports.
James is also thinking about his son. Bronny James is expected to enter the NBA in 2024 after his freshman year at USC. Could James take a year off before doing a proper retirement tour with his son when the time comes?
Or, maybe it’s all a leverage play to force the Lakers’ front office to be active in pursuit of roster upgrades. If that is indeed the case, LA has every reason to aggressively pursue the requisite pieces to convince James to stay. Even at 38 years old, he’s a top talent in the NBA and the bleeding heart of this Lakers team.
Players the Lakers could target to convince LeBron James to stay:
3. Chris Paul
Chris Paul and LeBron James have been close friends for almost two decades now. There has been buzz around potential team-ups in the past, but this could be the summer it actually happens. Phoenix is looking for ways to flesh out the depth chart around Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Swapping CP3 for a gaggle of role players and draft picks could be the move.
The Lakers have contracts to match Paul’s $30.8 million price tag for next season. A trio of Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba, and Jarred Vanderbilt would be enough to get the Lakers in the ballpark. It would probably require more sweetener on LA’s end, but the Suns could benefit from Beasley’s torrid shooting and Vanderbilt’s active defense on the wing.
Paul could help James shoulder the playmaking burden and vice versa. The Lakers are at risk of losing D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves in free agency, which could heighten the need for a ball-handler of Paul’s caliber.
Even with James and Paul both in the twilight stages of their careers, it’s hard not to be enticed by the idea of pairing two all-time basketball geniuses together. Plus, the idea of ‘one last run’ with an old friend like Paul could definitely make LeBron stick around.