Lakers’ LeBron James Weighing Major Career Change Amid NBA Expansion: Report

LeBron James, Lakers

Getty LeBron James, Lakers

In the short term, it has become increasingly clear that Lakers fans can rest easy about star forward LeBron James opting to continue his NBA time in Los Angeles. James became eligible to sign a contract extension earlier this month, and while there was some question about whether he’d go through with it or opt to hit free agency next summer, recent reports suggest James will re-sign.

For how long, though, remains a complicated question. And while James’ desire to play alongside his son, Bronny, in the NBA is a factor that would keep the 37-year-old James around, another factor could nudge him into retirement in the coming years: His desire to be an owner of an NBA franchise.

As of now, Charlotte’s Michael Jordan is the only former player who is also a primary owner of an NBA franchise. But with possible expansion into Seattle and Las Vegas looming, James could be angling to change that, according to a dispatch from veteran NBA reporter Ric Bucher.

LeBron in ‘Pole Position’ for Vegas Ownership

Here’s what Bucher said on the subject during his On the Ball podcast this week:

LeBron James apparently is in the pole position to be the owner of the Las Vegas expansion franchise, when Las Vegas and Seattle which I’m told is going to happen as soon as the next TV deals are in place, that those franchises are going to be added to the equation, which has a whole lot of repercussions including the timing of when LeBron decides to step aside and become an owner, rather than a player.

The league’s current television deals run up after the 2024-25 season, and the new ones would be in place for 2025-26. That does not necessarily mean that the franchises in Seattle and Las Vegas will be in place by the 2025-26 season, but if ownership groups and building locations are being decided by that time, James would be required to be out of the NBA as a player.

That would set up James to retire at age 40—if it is true that expansion happens then. Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking ahead of the NBA Finals this year, denied that adding teams is in the league’s near future.

“We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver said. “As I’ve said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand, just not at this moment.”

LeBron James Will Finish Career With Bronny

But expansion potentially gives some parameters for how James will wind down his career. He could sign on to stick with the Lakers this summer, but probably would do so on a deal that only runs one year, or gives him the option to hit free agency in 2024.

That’s because James made it clear back in February that he will play with Bronny James before he retires. Bronny James is a senior in high school, expected to play one year in college in 2023-24, then enter the NBA draft.

James could sign a minimum deal with whatever franchise drafts Bronny James in 2024.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic at the NBA All-Star Game. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”



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