Lakers news: LeBron James officially speaks out about retirement

Even at age 39, All-Star Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James remains one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA.

But how long he wants to stick around after he wraps up Year 21 remains an open question.

Per Dave McMenamin of ESPN, James addressed this very issue postgame.

“Not very long,” James said. “Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill.

So I’m not going to play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure.

But not very long. I don’t know what or when that door will close as far as when I retire, but I don’t have much time left.”

James powered Los Angeles to a 115-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday behind a game-high 40-point explosion.

Per McMenamin, James and Michael Jordan are now the only players ever to score 40 or more points more than once at or beyond age 39.

LeBron James Nets LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on March 31, 2024 in New York City. James scored 40 points in the victory.MIKE STOBE/GETTY IMAGES
In the win, James shot 13-of-17 from the hardwood, which included a 9-of-10 night from three-point range. That mark tied a career-best in made triples.

“It’s incredible,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “I told him in the huddle before his last little stretch and we ultimately subbed him out [that I was] just extremely thankful that he packed the cape on the road trip. Needed all nine of those 3s.”

A satisfied James explained that thanks to his versatile offensive arsenal, the 6’9″ vet is able

“I don’t ever have to lean on [3-pointers] because I can do so much — I can score on any level on the floor basically once I cross half court,” James said of his improved marksmanship in the latter stages of his career.

“But being able to have a growth mindset and be able to work on things that the league is changing to, the league is a heavy 3-point shooting league.”

Jame is connecting on a career-best 41.6% of his 5.3 triple tries per night.

That ability to spread the floor could also help him preserve his body.

If he can remain an elite three-point shooter in the future, he may not need to exert himself nearly as much in the paint.

That has typically been where he’s thrived the most, however, though there’s some evidence to suggest he’s been a bit more reticent to take contact inside.

He’s down to just 5.6 foul shots per game, the lowest such mark in his career and a far cry from his peak of 10.3 free throws while with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005-06.

James is logging impressive averages of 25.4 points on a .533/.416/.752 slash line, 8.1 dimes, 7.3 boards, 1.2 swipes, and 0.6 rejections a night.

Now that he’s played 65 games, he’s officially eligible to make his record 20th All-NBA team for his efforts this year.

And his work with the Lakers this season as the team’s leading scorer is nothing to sneeze at.

The four-time champ may be able to help propel Los Angeles into a top-5 playoff berth if everything breaks just right.

Though the 42-33 club remains the ninth seed in the Western Conference, LA is also quite close to the two teams directly above it in a chippy play-in tournament bracket.

Los Angeles sits just 1.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Phoenix Suns and the seventh-seeded Sacramento Kings, who are both 43-31.

The sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans and fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks might also be within reach. Both teams are currently 45-29, just 3.5 games clear of the Lakers.

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