LeBron James possible retirement, explained: Lakers’ contract, age, draft picks & more to know after post game presser

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LeBron James
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The Nuggets defeated the Lakers on Monday to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, but a lot of the conversation following the historic game was about LeBron James.

Not only did James do everything he could to prolong the series — he led the Lakers with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists — but he finished his post-game press conference with a cryptic message about his future, fueling speculation that he's considering retirement.

The Sporting News takes a closer look at James' comments and his situation with the Lakers.

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LeBron James possible retirement

After the Nuggets defeated the Lakers in Game 4 of the 2023 Western Conference Finals to complete the sweep, James delivered a cryptic message in his post-game press conference.

"I've got a lot to think about to be honest," James said. "Just for me personally, going forward, the game of basketball, a lot to think about."

Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes later reported that James is "uncertain" if he'll be with the Lakers when the 2023-24 season starts and that retirement is "under consideration." Hayes added that James has "a lot to weigh."

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, the 2023 NBA Playoffs were "taxing" on James in a number of ways.

Over 16 games, James averaged 24.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in the postseason. The Lakers listed him on the team's injury report as probable for each game with right foot soreness. He then appeared to suffer a left ankle injury in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

MORE: Which NBA stars would have won Western Conference Finals MVP?

LeBron James contract and salary

James has two years remaining on his current contract with the Lakers.

James will make an estimated $46.9 million in the 2023-24 season. He then has a $50.7 million player option for the 2024-25 season, giving him the option of becoming an unrestricted free agent in the 2024 offseason.

  2023-24 2024-25 2025-26
LeBron James contract $46,900,000 $50,652,000 (PO) UFA

According to Spotrac, James has earned $431.9 million in his NBA career. His career earnings will increase to $529.4 if he plays out the final two years of his contract with the Lakers.

LeBron James age: Oldest players in NBA

Born on Dec. 30, 1984, James finished his age 38 season and will turn 39 during the 2023-24 season.

James was the third-oldest player in the NBA during the 2022-23 season, trailing only Miami's Udonis Haslem (42) and Golden State's Andre Iguodala (39).

James is the only player selected in the 2003 NBA Draft who is still active. Carmelo Anthony, who was the No. 3 pick in the same draft, announced his retirement on the morning of Game 4 of the 2023 Western Conference Finals. 

James called Anthony "one of his best friends" when asked about Anthony's announcement.

Lakers free agents and draft picks

The Lakers have a number of free agents this offseason.

D'Angelo Russell and Dennis Schroder will both be unrestricted free agents while Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura will be restricted free agents. The Lakers will also have a decision to make with Malik Beasley, who has a team option in his contract for next season.

Unrestricted Restricted Player option Team option
D'Angelo Russell Austin Reaves   Malik Beasley
Dennis Schroder Rui Hachimura    
Lonnie Walker IV Scottie Pippen Jr.    
Troy Brown Jr.      
Wenyen Gabriel      

When is Bronny eligible for the NBA Draft?

James' oldest son, Bronny, is a four-star recruit who recently committed to USC. Bronny could declare for the draft after his freshman season in college, making him eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft.

James has long said that he would like to play with his son in the NBA. He once went as far as saying that his last year "will" be played with Bronny and that wherever his son is, he'll go. He's since softened his stance a little but remains "serious about it."

How good is Bronny? Click here for a full scouting report.

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Scott Rafferty is a Senior NBA Editor for The Sporting News