LeBron: Hopeful To Stay With Lakers, Unsure On Retirement

LeBron James is hopeful to remain with the Lakers as his career winds down but he’s not sure how many more years he wants to play, he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and other media members during a press conference prior to the All-Star Game.

Speculation about James’ future has ramped up since it became public that the Warriors had inquired about James’ availability prior to the trade deadline. Talks didn’t get serious, as the Lakers had no interest in trading James.

James holds a $51.4MM option on his contract for next season. While stating that his preference is to remain in the organization, he didn’t tip his hand whether he’ll exercise the option.

“I am a Laker and I’m happy and been very happy being Laker the last six years and hopefully it stays that way,” James said. “But I don’t have the answer to how long it is or which uniform I’ll be in. Hopefully it is with the Lakers. It’s a great organization, so many greats. But we’ll see.”

James was similarly vague on how many more seasons he’ll suit up. It’s been reported in recent years he’d like to play with son Bronny James, currently a freshman at USC.

LeBron is also unsure whether he wants to have a farewell tour in his final year or just go quietly.

“I was asked this question a couple days ago,” James said. “‘Will you kind of take the farewell tour, or will you kind of just Tim Duncan it?’ I’m 50-50, I’m going to be honest, because there’s times when I feel like I guess I owe it to my fans that have been along this journey with me for two decades plus, to be able to give them that moment where it’s every city and whatever the case may be and they give you your flowers or whatever the case may be. That seems cool. But the other side of that, I’ve never been that great with accepting like praise. It’s a weird feeling for me.”

James claimed during a TNT interview prior to the game that he was unaware of the Warriors’ interest in him.

“I actually heard about it when everybody else heard about it,” James said. “Sometimes there’s conversations that happen behind closed doors that you don’t even know about it. And I guess until it’s real or not, then they’ll bring it to you. But it never even got to me.”

In the short run, James wants to maximize the remainder of the season. He arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, rather than on Saturday like the other All-Stars, because he was seeking treatment on his left ankle. James missed the Lakers’ last game before the break on Wednesday. He’ll receive more treatment before L.A.’s next game on Thursday  against Golden State.

“Trying to get my ankle as strong and as back to where I feel confident that I can finish off this last third of the season,” James said. “I won’t be playing the entire game (Sunday), for sure. I can get out there and run around with the young guys for a little bit and then shut it down at some point to give my body, and my ankle more importantly, another opportunity to rest.”

Following the NBA season, James intends to play for Team USA at the Paris Olympics this summer.

“I told myself before the season when I committed to being a part of the Olympic team, obviously it was all predicated on my health,” he said. “As it stands right now, I am healthy enough to be on the team and perform at a level that I knew I could perform at.”

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