The Los Angeles Lakers now have a gargantuan question mark regarding the structure of their team going forward after their season came to an end via a sweep by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.
The Lakers might not be able to count on LeBron James next season with the superstar contemplating retirement after completing his 20th campaign in the NBA.
But Los Angeles isn’t going to pressure James for an answer to the team’s biggest offseason question and the Lakers are ready to play the waiting game when it comes to the four-time NBA champion.
“We’ll look forward to those conversations when the time is right,” Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters Tuesday, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “But I will say this, LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who’s ever played. And when you do that, you earn a right to decide whether you’re going to give more.
“I think sometimes we put athletes, entertainers on a pedestal, but they’re humans and just like us. They have inflection points in their career and our job as Lakers is to support any player on our team if they reach a career inflection point. … and really providing nothing but support for him. Obviously our hope would be that his career continues, but we want to again just give him the time.”
The Lakers are already giving James all the space he needs to come to a decision when he is ready. James was the only player not to show up on exit interview day, according to McMenamin.
For James’ teammates, they are having a hard time envisioning James not playing basketball next season.
“It’d be crazy to see him away from the game, especially when I feel like he has a lot more in the tank,” D’Angelo Russell told reporters, per McMenamin.
Tony Brown Jr. could see why James needs some time away, but fully expects him to be on the floor wearing a Lakers uniform again.
“I feel like that’s human nature to be his age and be playing at the level that he’s playing at putting his body through that much work,” Brown told reporters, per McMenamin. “I mean, I don’t blame him for feeling that way. Personally for me, I feel like because of his love of the game, he will continue to play.”