The development has certainly been an alarming one for the Lakers and their fans, as the organization would find itself in a major hole if James were to walk away.
However, according to a report, some folks around the NBA think James’ comments were simply made to put pressure on L.A.’s front office in an attempt to get the team to pursue Kyrie Irving.
“Other NBA sources suggested James was getting an early start on his leverage campaign on the Lakers’ front office, attempting to influence GM Rob Pelinka to chase free agent Kyrie Irving, who is still expected by many to re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks,” wrote Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
If that’s the case, then James has more or less already emptied the tank in the leverage department. It’s hard to think of anything the veteran could do to put more pressure on the Lakers than tease the idea of retirement.
The timing of James’ comments may cause some fans to be skeptical of the leverage theory. If James wanted to put pressure on the organization, doing so just moments after elimination would be extremely early.
After all, L.A.’s front office probably wasn’t spending too much time thinking about Irving when the team was locked in a best-of-seven battle in the Western Conference Finals. Until the team was eliminated, the Lakers’ playoff run almost certainly occupied more space in the minds of L.A.’s executives than Irving did.
In all likelihood, James’ comments came before L.A.’s front office even had a chance to map out its offseason agenda.
Still, it’s entirely possible that the 38-year-old made his comments strategically and with Irving in mind. Irving is set to hit free agency this offseason and has been linked to the Lakers countless times in recent seasons.
There’s seemingly a lot of doubt surrounding the idea of James actually retiring, but in the end, it’s his decision to make. The future Hall of Famer just finished his 20th season at the NBA level and will turn 39 this year.
Lakers fans will certainly be keeping a close eye on whatever happens next.