Report: LeBron James focused on returning to Lakers in offseason

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is focused on returning to the team in the offseason, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

James, who could opt out of his contract to become a free agent this coming offseason, reportedly was pursued by both the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers at the trade deadline. The four-time champion could have many suitors in the offseason if he declines his player option for the 2024-25 season.

“The Warriors could revisit a pursuit in the offseason when James holds a $51.4 million player option on his contract for 2024-25,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote. “If James returns to the Lakers, he’ll likely do so by declining that option and re-signing with L.A. on a new deal that would allow him an annual raise. James remains focused on returning to the Lakers in the offseason, sources told ESPN, but undoubtedly there will be many of these same suitors — including Golden State and Philadelphia — emerging to make cases to convince James otherwise.”

James has been with the Lakers since the 2018-19 season, and he’s led the team to an NBA title (in the 2019-20 campaign) and two trips to the Western Conference Finals, including one last season.

The 20-time All-Star turned 39 years old this season, but he has shown no signs of slowing down despite his age. In 49 games, James is averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game while shooting 52.0 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc.

While Golden State and Philadelphia may attempt to lure James away from the Lakers, Los Angeles still has a lot to offer James.

There is the obvious comfort that James would have by remaining with the franchise he’s now spent the last six seasons with, and the Lakers have superstar Anthony Davis to pair with him.

Golden State and Philly can counter with their stars of Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid, but it’s possible the teams would have to gut their rosters in order to bring James in during the offseason.

It may be hard for both teams to clear the necessary cap space to sign James outright – so it’s possible they’d have to orchestrate a sign-and-trade with the Lakers to acquire the four-time champion.

If that’s the case, James may realize that staying with the Lakers might be his best option at winning another title.

This season, the Lakers have not played at the level that they expected – especially after they won the league’s In-Season Tournament – but things have turned around as of late. Los Angeles is 7-3 in its last 10 games and now 29-26 on the season.

The team still holds the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, but it showed last season that as long as it gets into the playoffs, it can make some noise no matter its seeding.

It’s a good sign for Lakers fans that it’s already being reported that James would like to remain in Los Angeles. Hopefully, he feels the same this coming offseason when it’s time to make a decision on his contract.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.