Small Forward: LeBron James
There has been rampant speculation about LeBron James’ future after he mentioned the possibility of retirement in his post-game press conference following Game 4. Whether you believe the earnestness of LeBron’s consideration or not, the most likely outcome is another go-around with the Lakers.
James is under contract for two more years. He is set to make $46.9 million in 2023-24 with a player option for $50.6 million in 2024-25 — in theory, the year his son will enter the NBA after his freshman season at USC. While James could feasibly retire or leave Los Angeles to play with his son when the time comes, fans should expect at least one more year in purple and gold.
Money probably isn’t the primary motivator for James, who is independently wealthy outside of basketball at this point. But there is something to be said for the competitive spirit of a guy who has played top-level basketball for 20 years now. LeBron has put more work into his body and his game than any NBA player in history. Even last season, with injuries and age taking their toll, James averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.9 assists. He dropped 40-9-9 in the Lakers’ elimination game for Pete’s sake. There still aren’t many players better than LeBron.
The Lakers will obviously do everything in their power to convince LeBron to stay. Perhaps a conference finals appearance is enough. LA was right on the doorstep of another Finals run. The Nuggets never really blew LA out of the water either; those games were close. Maybe, just maybe, the Lakers can make it happen in James’ 21st season.