LA Lakers and NBA Betting News: "It was cool, a pretty cool ride"

LA Lakers and NBA Betting News: “It was cool, a pretty cool ride”

For just the third time in his Hall of Fame career, LeBron James has been swept out of the NBA playoffs as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 113-111 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday to eliminate LA – and LeBron hasn’t ruled out retiring at age 38, although no one really thinks he will.


NBA Betting News: LeBron James Talks Possible Retirement After Western Conference Sweep


After scoring 40 points and playing all but four seconds of Game 4, with his last-second floater to try to force overtime being blocked at the buzzer, James ended his news conference by telling reporters, “Going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about. I don’t know.”

It marked the first time that the 19-time All-Star has signaled being at a crossroads in his career. James was brilliant in Game 4 against Denver, setting a personal best for points in a half in a playoff game by lighting the Nuggets up for 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting by halftime while playing in the 282nd playoff game of his career. However, the Lakers couldn’t hold on.

Contractually, he has two years and $97.1 million dollars remaining but LeBron obviously doesn’t need the money. He has been on record as wanting to play his final NBA season alongside oldest son Bronny James, a top recruit who will play at USC next season and then presumably be selected in the 2024 NBA Draft. LeBron also might want to win one more gold medal at the 2024 Olympics.

James hasn’t previously suggested much personal conflict about finishing his contract alongside Anthony Davis, and his play hasn’t significantly declined after two decades in the NBA — although his health has grown less sturdy, particularly in his balky feet and ankles. James could simply want out of LA. Maybe he pulls a Michael Jordan and steps away for a year or two.

“It’s all about availability for me and keeping my mind sharp, and things of that nature,” James said. “Being present on the floor, being present in the locker room and bus rides and plane rides, things of that nature. It’s challenging, for sure. It was a very challenging season for me, for our ballclub, and obviously we know whatever went on early on (in the Lakers’ 2-10 start to the season). It was cool, a pretty cool ride.”

He might need summer surgery for a foot injury suffered in late February that sidelined him for a month. James, who played in all 17 of the Lakers’ postseason games, said he will undergo medical testing to determine the severity of the injury.

“I’m going to get an MRI on it and see how the tendon either healed or not healed and go from there. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

GM Rob Pelinka told reporters that he and Coach Darvin Ham will have their exit interview with James in the coming days and that LeBron “earned the right” to reflect on his NBA future, calling it “human” and an “inflection point.”

“Obviously, our hope would be that his career continues,” Pelinka said. “Keeping that continuity is going to be very important. This was a season of advancement and growth … This was a team that competed to the bitter end and that’s something as an organization that we owe to our fans.”

The Lakers will have a busy offseason with the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves all free agents. Both Reaves and Hachimura made themselves some money in these playoffs, while Russell was terrible against the Nuggets and might not be back.

The Lakers have Reaves’ Early Bird rights, but he is on a minimum contract, meaning the max they can offer him is four years, $50.8 million. As Stein notes, it is expected some team filled with young talent looking for guards will come in higher than that. The Lakers have the right to match any offer but would be hit hard with tax penalties.

There’s also talk that Kyrie Irving could opt to sign with LeBron and the Lakers after his time in Dallas was a flop. The fact he attended multiple postseason games for the Lakers, including Game 4, also naturally added fuel to the fire. LeBron has been a pretty public supporter of Kyrie and wanted him on the Lakers. Building a roster to compete for a championship centered on three players earning $130 million is extremely difficult under the new collective bargaining agreement.

The Lakers could create up to $30.5 million by waiving Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba, not exercising Malik Beasley’s team option and renouncing free agents Russell, Lonnie Walker IV and Hachimura. The cap space would increase to $35 million if they trade Max Christie and their first-round pick. However, the starting number on Irving’s max salary is $47 million.


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