It calls into question his future in the sport, and he potentially indicated that retirement could be on the cards after the game.
If the sportsbook had odds available, we would price him around +150 to retire.
No Farewell Tour?
If James was to retire following the Lakers defeat to the Denver Nuggets, he wouldn’t be afforded a farewell tour.
We’re not saying he wants one, but for a guy who loves the limelight, we thought he would announce his retirement at the end of next season so he and the NBA could cash in throughout the year.
However, there’s a chance that he leaves the Lakers but doesn’t retire. We didn’t like seeing him leave the floor immediately after the loss and not staying on the court with the younger players.
We would have liked to have seen James stay on the floor and console the younger players such as Austin Reaves, which could have helped them in the long run. He might have done this in the locker room and out of the public eye, but it wasn’t a good look.
“I don’t get a kick out of making a conference (finals) appearance,” James said. “I’ve done it, a lot. And it’s not fun to me to not be able to be a part of getting to the (NBA) Finals.”
Our NBA expert picks predict James leaving the Lakers and signing a one-year deal with another team.
The Lakers have him secured with a guaranteed contract, but in the age where players can freely opt out of their contracts, we wouldn’t be surprised to see James leave and take the financial hit.
That would open up a lot of space for the Lakers, who will need to pay Reaves more, but they also have Anthony Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt locked in.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 23, 2023
What if Kyrie Comes?
Sport betting markets would have to consider opening the Lakers as one of the title favorites if Kyrie Irving were to reunite with James in Los Angeles.
There was talk about the deal before this season’s trade deadline, but the Lakers were reluctant to give the Brooklyn Nets options. However, being swept in the Western Conference finals calls for drastic changes.
Irving would be the ideal player to fit in with the Lakers. They don’t have a legitimate superstar point guard, but Irving is notoriously tough to play alongside. However, that didn’t stop Irving and James from winning an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As history tells us, having three All-Star players on one team doesn’t guarantee success. It’s the best teams that are having success at the moment, and not the teams that buy superstars in the hopes of winning titles.
It failed in Houston, it failed in Brooklyn and semi-failed in Phoenix, so it could fail again in Los Angeles. Having James, Davis and Irving together sounds good on paper, but it wouldn’t take long for the troubles to begin.
Our NBA predictions would have them losing in the Western Conference finals again.
How About Coaching?
We all know James is effectively the coach of the Lakers. He has the biggest voice when timeouts are called, and he often calls the shots when it comes to recruiting.
Despite his incessant flops and crying, James is a good leader. He elevates the game of players around him, so he could be a natural coach should he want to retire.
“I got a lot to think about, to be honest,” James said. “Just for me personally, going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about it.”
The 38-year-old, despite playing well, is beyond his best. He lacked energy at times against the Nuggets, but that’s to be expected.
We can’t expect him to play into his 40s, and the stress of it all could be too much on his body and mind.
Changing teams could set him back, and if he doesn’t see a title in the future with the Lakers, we can’t see him playing.
If roster additions aren’t made, we see no reason why he would stay. James plays to win, which is why he went to Miami. He is chasing rings, and he isn’t comfortable playing for a team that’s unlikely to win it all.
The 2023-24 NBA title odds will depend on what James does in the offseason.