One day after LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul attempted to shutdown trade rumors, the superstar declined to commit to the Los Angeles Lakers beyond this season. James’ response to whether his future plans have been decided: “no.”
“LeBron James declined to offer clarity on his ⌛️ tweet and when asked if he knows what he will do with his contract option for the Lakers this summer said, ‘No,’” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin detailed in a February 3, 2024 message on X.
The unsaid message to the Lakers front office: the pressure is on. James declined to explain his hourglass emoji tweet, but the superstar is clearly indicating that there is a sense of urgency at this point in his career.
James is in the final season of a two-year, $99 million contract with the Lakers. The superstar is slated to hit free agency this summer with joining another NBA squad, retirement and re-signing with the Lakers all as potential options.
LeBron James’ Agent Rich Paul on Lakers Rumors: ‘LeBron Won’t Be Traded’
Despite Paul’s public comments, it is important to note that James does not possess a no-trade clause. Would the Lakers be bold enough to strike a trade ahead of the February 8 deadline? It is unlikely, but Los Angeles is risking losing James for nothing this summer.
“LeBron won’t be traded, and we aren’t asking to be,” James told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on February 2.
Could LeBron James Bolt the Los Angeles Lakers to Team Up With Bronny James?
James’ comments mark a stark contrast to past years where the star has emphasized his desire to remain in Los Angeles. Both James and the Lakers are approaching a much more complicated offseason.
Last summer, we saw James openly discuss retirement being on the table. This offseason is likely to be no different, but there is also the Bronny James factor.
After years of speculation about teaming up with his oldest son, James will finally be eligible to enter the NBA draft. Given his slow start at USC, James is not a lock to get drafted in 2024.
Insider on LeBron James’ Future: ‘I Don’t Know If It’s Gonna Be [Playing] for the Lakers’
Windhorst previously reported that James is not a lock to return to the Lakers next season. Few NBA insiders are as plugged into James’ camp as Windhorst, who has been covering the star since his high school days.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with LeBron in 2025,” Windhorst explained in a January 17 episode of “The Hoop Collective.” “I feel like LeBron’s gonna play next year, but I don’t know if it’s gonna be for the Lakers. Probably, but he’s got an opt out. There’s reasons to have discussions about this.”
All this puts even more of a spotlight on the Lakers’ potential moves ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Time will tell if general manager Rob Pelinka can make a trade to greatly improve the Lakers roster. James’ cryptic messages are clearly aimed to ramp up the pressure on the Los Angeles front office
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