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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Report: LeBron James expected to recover, return for 21st NBA season

LeBron James is expected to recover from a torn tendon in his foot and return next season, despite the superstar hinting at potentially retiring after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets, The Athletic‘s Shams Charania said on Thursday.

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, Charania added he expects James will be back for his 21st NBA season.

The Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, aided by historic numbers from Nuggets duo Nikola Jokic and Canadian Jamal Murray.

During the press conference after their Game 4 loss on Monday at home, James, 38, revealed that he needed to “think about” whether he wants to continue playing basketball.

Many executives, experts, and players had a myriad of reactions to James’ post-game comments. While some criticized the NBA’s all-time leading scorer for changing the narrative off of L.A.’s playoff exit, others sympathized with James, noting the amount of pressure on him and the toll it takes to continue playing at the highest level for 20 years.

James has been playing the last three months through a foot injury, which could have also been a factor in his outlook. The four-time NBA champion tore a tendon in his right foot in a 111-108 L.A. victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26, leading him to miss 13 games.

He returned on March 26, and continued playing at a high level, especially in the NBA playoffs. James averaged 24.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists through 16 playoff games, closing out his 2022-23 season with a 40-point performance.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham were fully supportive of James during exit interviews on Tuesday, saying they intend to give him all the time he needs to make a decision regarding his future.

“LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who’s ever played. When you do that, you earn the right to decide if you want to give more,” Pelinka told reporters. “Obviously, our hope would be that his career continues.”

“LeBron has earned the right to do whatever he wants to do, make whatever choice,” Ham told reporters.

The four-time NBA MVP and Finals MVP has two years left on his contract, having signed a $97.1-million extension last September. The deal includes a $50.6-million player option for the 2024-25 season.

He has also made it clear about his desire to play with his son Bronny James, who will be playing college basketball at the University of Southern California in the 2023-24 season and be draft eligible the following year.

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