Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said Tuesday that LeBron James has earned the right to take some time to consider his options this offseason, including retirement.
James hinted on Monday night following the Lakers’ elimination from the playoffs that “I’ve got a lot to think about” when it comes to his future and later reiterated that retirement was a possibility.
“LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who has ever played,” said Pelinka, who is also the team’s vice president of basketball operations. “When you do that, you earn a right to decide if you want to give more.”
Pelinka and coach Darvin Ham, who both expressed hope that James would return next season, when he’s owed nearly $47 million, were the first Lakers to address the media during their annual exit interviews at the team’s training facility in El Segundo.
Ham echoed what Pelinka said of James, “He’s earned the right.” Pelinka added that they’d be speaking with James in the coming days.
Pelinka said that the Lakers season, which turned around after trades before the February deadline, was one of “advancement” and “growth” while crediting Ham with instilling values that made sure the team “competes until the bitter end.”
The Lakers were in 13th place in the Western Conference in late February before climbing to No. 7 in the standings and earning the seventh seed in the playoffs by beating Minnesota in the play-in game with their reconstructed roster, which included the acquisitions of forwards Rui Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt along with guards Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell.
“Our intentions are to keep our core of young guys together,” Pelinka said, adding, “There’s proof in concept that this is a really good team.”