It was just a few months ago that many believed 2022-23 could be LeBron James’ last season with the Los Angeles Lakers. But the four-time champion signed a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension in mid-August, putting off free agency for at least one more summer.
As the Lakers struggle to level up in the Western Conference despite his individual brilliance, though, already more calls have come for James to opt out of the final year of his contract to hit the open market in 2024. Don’t take his frustration with the Lakers’ ongoing mediocrity, at best, as any indication of his desire to leave Southern California, though.
James reportedly still wants to finish his illustrious career wearing purple and gold.
“I keep hearing he wants to stay with the Lakers,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on The Lowe Post. “He wants to finish his career with the Lakers. His comments though should be interpreted as his patience is not infinite and if this is just a continued morass of losing, maybe that changes. But if you force me to bet, I’d still bet on him finishing his career with the Lakers. And I’d feel pretty confident in that.”
Los Angeles is currently 19-22, a half game back of reaching the play-in tournament. James’ dominant recent play of late without the injured Anthony Davis hasn’t just kept the Lakers’ long-shot postseason odds in play, but no doubt increased the team’s sense of urgency to make a win-now deal—involving at least one of those ballyhooed future first-round picks—leading up to the February 9th trade deadline.
James, for his part, pushed back on the notion that his “patience is waning” with the Lakers’ front office, insisting his recent compete-for-championship-or-bust comments was unrelated to the team’s reluctance to improve the roster by parting with future draft picks.
Los Angeles is back in action on Thursday, hosting Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.