LeBron James played the entirety of the Los Angeles Lakers postseason run with a torn tendon in his right foot and is expected to need offseason surgery to repair the issue — something that could play a factor in his retirement decision.
James is contemplating his NBA future after the Lakers bowed out in the Western Conference Finals to the Denver Nuggets, falling via a sweep. The 38-year-old James battled through the foot injury but still managed to put up some big numbers, averaging 24.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
Shams Charania of The Athletic believes James will need surgery at which could sideline James for two months this offseason.
“So I’ll just look at the overall context of the season. The numbers he put up this year were historic, I think the most points ever for a player at the age of 38. Leads the Lakers from 2-10, all the way to the Western Conference Finals,” Charania said during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show. “And he plays the last few months of the season with a torn tendon in his foot that could need surgery this summer. I’m told he’s going to be re-evaluating that foot. It’s very possible he might, he might need surgery on that foot. That could sideline him for two months.”
Shams: I Fully Expect Lebron to Play Next Season
James has previously talked about getting offseason surgery on his foot but said he wouldn’t be letting it get out if he did.
“If I happen to get surgery after the season, you guys won’t know,” James said in March. “I don’t talk to you guys in the offseason, and by the time the next season starts, I’ll be fine and ready to go.”
James is famous for the way he takes care of his body and prepares for the season, so a two-month recovery process combined with thoughts of retirement could factor into his decision-making. However, Charania believes James will be returning for a 21st season.
“I fully expect him to play next season. All I heard after those comments is that he will be playing next season. That’s my sense,” Charania said. “But again, I think he’s gonna take the next couple of months to really see where his head’s at and see if gets re-energized.”
LeBron James Says He Has ‘A Lot to Think About’
In all likilhood, James won’t be stepping away. He has two years and $97 million remaining on his contract. His final year is a player option. James has expressed interest in playing with his son, Bronny, who will be draft eligible in 2024.
“We’ll see what happens going forward. I don’t know. I don’t know,” James said after the Game 4 loss to the Nuggets on May 22. “I’ve got a lot to think about to be honest. Just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.”
James talking about retirement might be more about gaining some leverage on the front office. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report cited a source that linked it to James’ desire to get Kyrie Irving in purple and gold.
“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,” Pincus wrote.
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