NBA insider Shams Charania is expressing a belief that Los Angles Lakers superstar LeBron James will return to play next season despite making cryptic comments about retirement on Monday night.
"LeBron James played the last few months of the season with a torn tendon in his foot that could need surgery this summer..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) May 25, 2023
James turned 38 on Dec. 30 and, when healthy, was still among the best players in the league this season. In 55 games during the regular season, he averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
Numbers like those are why the possibility of James’ retirement has been met with widespread surprise.
In truth, the timing of his comments and frustration that he undoubtedly felt about playing through injury were likely driving factors for the remarks. Some NBA executives have dismissed the idea of James hanging it up.
Moreover, having the Lakers’ exciting postseason end with a four-game sweep had to be aggravating to James, a player who’s been a part of four NBA title teams. In addition, uncertainty remains about the makeup of next season’s Lakers roster.
James really doesn’t have very many individual accolades left to collect after becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in February. That leaves the quest for more championships, with James still two NBA titles behind the legendary Michael Jordan.
Making a decision about offseason surgery is something that James is holding off on until he’s examined by medical professionals. They very well might advise him to undergo surgery, with Charania pointing out in his comments that rehab for this is approximately two months.
The 2023-24 NBA season won’t get underway until October, which gives James plenty of time to have the surgery (if he so chooses) and then be prepared to do battle again.
One very simple reason why James is likely to return is because of the ample amount of money he’s set to earn for at least next season. He’s set to make about $46.9 million for the 2023-24 campaign, with an option to play for an astounding $50.7 million in the 2024-25 season.
James obviously doesn’t need that money, given his current ample wealth, but such numbers can be hard to pass up. Coupled with his thirst for more titles and his simple love of the game, James seems destined to play at least one more season.