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What LeBron James has said about his future as a Laker

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LeBron James’ sixth season in purple and gold has ended as the Lakers have been eliminated.

Since joining Los Angeles as a free agent in 2018, James has experienced several highs and lows. During the six-year rollercoaster ride, he has etched his name in Lakers lore by leading the franchise to an NBA title in 2020 and added a feather in his cap with an In-Season Tournament championship in 2023.

With the Lakers no longer in contention for the 2024 NBA championship, the focus now shifts to James’ immediate future. 

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After signing a two-year contract extension in 2022, James has a player option for the 2024-25 season. If he declines that option, he will become an unrestricted free agent ahead of his 22nd NBA season.

Entering free agency doesn’t necessarily mean James’ time as a Laker is done, but it does open the door for him to switch teams for the fourth time in his NBA career.

Will James leave the Lakers? Here is what we know about his future based on what he’s said in the past.

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James’ most definitive statement about his Lakers future came during the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis. When asked about retirement and the final years of his career, he expounded on what he envisioned.

“I am a Laker. I’ve been very happy being a Laker the last six years and hopefully it stays that way,” James told the media.

“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 and so many greats — but we’ll see. I don’t know how it’s going to end but it’s coming.”

While James indicated his happiness as a member of the Lakers, the door is still open for him to exercise his right to move on should he choose to enter free agency. Among the factors influencing his choice is the opportunity to play in the NBA with his oldest son, Bronny.

After one season at USC, Bronny James entered the NBA Draft process while leaving the door open to return to college basketball as a sophomore. 

James has expressed an interest in spending an NBA season as his son’s teammate. That desire could result in James leaving Los Angeles to sign with a team that acquires his son during the NBA Draft process.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James told The Athletic in 2022. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

While James has indicated that it’s his dream to share an NBA floor with his son, he has also made it clear that he won’t nudge his son in any direction.

“My son is going to take his journey,” James told ESPN in 2023. “And whatever his journey, however his journey lays out, he’s going to do what’s best for him. …So, just because that’s my aspiration or my goal, doesn’t mean it’s his. And I’m absolutely OK with that.”

In 2022, the Lakers signed James to a two-year contract extension worth north of $99 million. The deal gives him a player option to become a free agent in 2024.

PO = Player option

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