Add Kendrick Perkins to the growing chorus of pundits who don’t believe LeBron James is seriously considering retirement.
.@KendrickPerkins reacts to LeBron's comments on potentially retiring 👀
"He didn't believe that his damn self. … There's no way in hell that LeBron's leaving without a farewell tour. … That message was straight delivered to Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss and the front office." pic.twitter.com/wpQ69Ibr7Q
— First Take (@FirstTake) May 26, 2023
After the Los Angeles Lakers’ season ended, James cryptically said he had a lot to think about regarding his basketball future. Perkins, a former teammate of James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said he believes the superstar would not leave the NBA without a well-deserved farewell tour.
After the Lakers were swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, James’ postgame remarks ignited speculation about his intentions. Some chalked it up to his disappointment at falling short of a fifth NBA championship after a challenging regular season. Others pointed out that he played with a foot injury that is likely to require surgery this offseason.
Perkins speculated that it would be difficult for James to walk away from the more than $97 million he has coming on the two years remaining on his contract. He is still among the best players in the NBA and averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game this season.
The makeup of the roster also could entice James to return. The Lakers surged late in the season when they were buoyed by a healthy Anthony Davis, the improved play of Austin Reaves and trade acquisition Rui Hachimura.
Perkins said James’ comments were more likely a message to the Lakers’ brass to firm up his supporting cast this offseason and to Davis to come into next season in better shape.
James has also stated his desire to play in the NBA with his son Bronny. To do so, the elder James would have to play at least two more seasons, after the younger James plays next season at the University of Southern California.
Perkins said he believes the elder James could play three or four more seasons before calling it quits.
All of those things, combined with a champion’s desire to win at least one more ring, could be enough to convince the elder James to keep playing. That undoubtedly would be good news for the Lakers, and for the NBA as a whole.