Rich Paul offers cryptic response when asked whether he expects LeBron James to return next season

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

LeBron James’ agent is following his client’s cryptic path, refusing to confirm that the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is going to continue his playing career after he hinted at retirement last month.

Rich Paul of Klutch Sports was asked by if he expects James to suit up for the 2023-24 NBA season, and the answer was as vague as it could be.

“I have an expectation just as you do,” Paul said. “We’ll see.”

James introduced the possibility of retirement in the immediate aftermath of the Lakers’ final game of the season. Los Angeles was swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, and James took that opportunity to wonder aloud about his future.

He later used social media to raise the idea of an NBA that does not include him. All the while, former teammates and media members have said they believe the 38-year-old will continue to play. That is why the brief response by a member of James’ inner circle such as Paul could raise some eyebrows.

Paul has represented James for about 20 years. The Klutch CEO, who was in the Cleveland area on Friday to promote a new apparel store, said the NBA legend is decompressing in the French Riviera.

James’ future is by far the most pressing item on the Lakers’ offseason docket, but it is far from the only important one. Emerging guard Austin Reaves is set to become a restricted free agent, and there could be some competition for him. Los Angeles can match any offer sheet given to Reaves, but depending on how high the price goes, it could impact the rest of the roster.

The Lakers made an unlikely run to the conference finals this year, and their improved play late in the season indicates they may have a championship window. James certainly would be motivated by a chance to win a fifth NBA title.

However, he does have some health concerns after playing through a torn tendon in his foot this season. The injury reportedly could require surgery.

Until James announces a decision one way or another, he will remain the hottest topic of the NBA offseason.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.