LeBron James leaves door wide open to leave Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Hornets
Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Hornets / David Jensen/GettyImages

It has become an annual tradition at this point in his career for LeBron James to talk about his future at the NBA All-Star Break. LeBron has used this opportunity to leverage the Los Angeles Lakers before and the NBA's all-time leading scorer is doing it yet again this time around.

LeBron has a player option for the 2024-25 season while Bronny James also has the ability to declare for the 2024 NBA Draft. Those two variables are going to play a big part in deciding LeBron's future and he knows that he controls the situation with all of the leverage.

LeBron was asked during the All-Star Break about his eventual retirement, if he would want a farewell tour, and if he wanted to be a Laker. While LeBron made sure to state just how much he loves being on the Lakers, and that he wants to retire in LA, he still did leave the door open for a potential departure; essentially, LeBron looked the Lakers right in the eye and told the Lakers that he wants to be here, but do they want to do everything possible to keep him? (h/t Dave McMenamin, ESPN)

"I am a Laker and I'm happy and been very happy being a 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.""

LeBron James leaves door open to leave the Lakers

It is great to hear that LeBron James is happy on the Lakers and that he would like to stay in LA if all goes as planned. But there are some very important keystrokes to LeBron's comments that should not be ignored, as they are more revealing than some may realize.

LeBron saying "hopefully it stays that way," and "But we'll see," tells you all you need to know. This is not a concrete dedication to the Lakers and finishig out his career here. This is essentially him saying that he would love to stay in Los Angeles, but is not going to stay just for the sake of staying.

This is the same message that LeBron has had with every other team in his career: build a contender around me. LeBron is going to continue using his power in the league and his leverage to get the Lakers to make moves he wants to make. Let's not forget, he was reportedly the driving force behind the initial Russell Westbrook trade that tanked an entire season.

The only problem for LeBron is that he does not have the same power that he once had. While he is undoubtedly influential, this is not prime LeBron. He cannot hold this over the Lakers' heads like he would the Cleveland Cavaliers in the past. Los Angeles can rebound from losing LeBron if it comes to that.

Regardless, this summer is going to be one of the most interesting storyline-wise in recent NBA history. LeBron has the ability to become a free agent, and he very well may just sign wherever his son gets drafted. That could be with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it could also be elsewhere. Time will tell.

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