LeBron James‘ brief tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers has featured plenty of success. James has transformed the Lakers into a championship contender with a bright future ahead. The star forward has now erased all doubt concerning his NBA future in Los Angeles.
LeBron James guides the Lakers to an NBA title
James‘ decision to join the Lakers initially received significant media backlash by calling it a business move rather than being fueled by his basketball aspirations.
His first season with Los Angeles became derailed by a groin issue that forced him to miss 17 straight games. The franchise outlook changed to legitimate title contention after acquiring star big man Anthony Davis to pair alongside James.
The two stars guided the franchise to its first postseason appearance in seven years and grabbed the Western Conference’s top playoff spot in a decade. The Lakers followed it up with an impressive playoff run, capturing their first NBA title in 10 years.
Los Angeles fell short of repeating as NBA champions due to significant injuries. Davis and James each couldn’t return to full strength, leading to a first-round playoff exit. As the Lakers head into a critical offseason. James just erased the fan base’s biggest fear.
LeBron James just erased all doubt about his NBA future: ‘I truly hope that I can finish my career with the Lakers’
Last offseason, James inked a one-year extension with the Lakers to push him under contract through the 2022-23 season.
It effectively left the door open regarding his NBA future beyond his 20th campaign to either play with another franchise or retire. During a recent appearance on the “Smartless” podcast, while promoting the upcoming “Space Jam: A New Legacy” movie, James emphatically voiced he wants to spend the rest of his career with the Lakers.
“I truly hope that I can finish my career with the Lakers,” James said via ClutchPoints. “However many years that is, if it’s four, five, six, whatever, seven, I hope I can continue to play the game,” James said. “I love being in L.A., my family loves being in L.A. Being with a historical franchise like the Lakers is something… It’s like me being in “Space Jam” — I never thought it would be possible. You think about Kareem, and Magic, and Wilt, and Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, Kobe, Shaq and all of them, the whole list goes on.”
It’s music to Lakers fans’ ears as there developed a growing concern about him finishing his career elsewhere if he continued playing after his current contract. James mentioning playing four to seven more seasons would put him well into his 40s. It would also require James to ink another deal that extends well beyond his current contract.
Given James’ commitment to his health, it’s hard to imagine him not being able to extend his high level of play into his 40s. If the four-time league MVP can take care of his body, there is no reason to believe he won’t play as long as he wants.
Lakers can expand their NBA title window
It marks the first time James openly discussed his NBA future regarding where he wants to finish his playing days.
There isn’t a set timetable for his retirement, but it’s clear the Lakers’ window to build around him extends further than his current deal. At the same time, the front office must make the most out of each season as there’s no guarantee he can maintain his elite level of play.
Los Angeles can now operate comfortably moving forward, constructing a roster around both James and Davis. It also alerts other players around the league that the future first-ballot Hall of Famer isn’t stepping into retirement anytime soon.
Many different ripple effects will come about from James’ remarks that will significantly benefit the Lakers’ future moving forward.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.