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Friday, June 14, 2024

LeBron tight-lipped on future after LA Lakers’ playoff exit

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LOS ANGELES —LeBron James declined to be drawn on his NBA future on Monday in the wake of the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff exit to the Denver Nuggets.

The 39-year-old NBA superstar once again produced another superb performance that belied his age with 30 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

But it was not enough to stop the Lakers from falling to an agonizing 108-106 loss as Denver completed a 4-1 series victory to end James’ hopes of adding a fifth NBA championship ring in the twilight of his career.

A year ago, James had sparked speculation he could retire after the Lakers were swept 4-0 by Denver in the Western Conference finals, confirming to reporters he was considering walking away from the sport.

On Monday, questions about James’ future dominated the post-game press conference in Denver after a disappointing end to the 21st season of a glittering career.

Asked if Monday’s defeat could have been his final appearance in a Lakers’ uniform, James smiled before replying: “I’m not going to answer that.”

James, who has a year left on his current Lakers contract but reportedly has an opt out clause that leaves him free to join other teams, said he had not given serious thought to his next steps.

“I just want to get home to the family honestly,” James said.

“I’ll start looking at the schedule. One of my boys is just trying to decide if he’s going to enter the Draft or go back to school, I’ve got another kid playing ball, my daughter’s playing volleyball. And my wife is doing so many great things. So it’s about family right now.

“And then in a couple of months I gotta go to Vegas for (Olympics) training camp. So I’m gonna rest my body for USA Basketball. That’s kind of the initial thoughts.”

James has previously talked about prolonging his NBA career in order to play alongside eldest Bronny James if he eventually enters the league.

James though played down that possibility on Monday, insisting he hadn’t “given it much thought lately.”

“Obviously I’ve thought about it in the past but at the end of the day the kid has to do what he wants to do … he will decide what he wants to do and how he wants his career to go.”

Lakers defensive stalwart Anthony Davis meanwhile said he had no inkling of what James might decide to do next season.

“He’s been in this position numerous times in his career where he had to make a decision, for himself and his family,” Davis said.

“And I’ll be right there supporting him whatever he decides to do. I don’t know but I’m pretty sure he’ll come and talk to me and tell me what’s going on before it becomes public.

“Obviously it’s been a great five seasons. If he does decide to come back, this is not where we want to be — over in the first round. We want to be a championship contender.”

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