LeBron James is keeping fans guessing about his playing future just over a week after the 38-year-old teased the idea of retiring when the Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.
On Monday, James took to his Instagram Story with a curious lyric from Jay-Z’s “What More Can I Say.”
“I’m suppose to be #1 on everybody list,” James wrote. “We’ll see what happens when I no longer exist.”
The four-time NBA champion included a photo from a fan account that showed him during his high school playing days at St. Vincent–St. Mary in his native Akron, Ohio.
James’ post added fuel to speculation that he could call it a career after his 20th NBA season ended in a 113-111 Game 4 loss to the Nuggets last Monday.
After James recorded a double-double — playing all but four seconds in the elimination game — he surprisingly said he has “a lot to think about” this offseason concerning his playing future.
“But we’ll see. We’ll see what happens going forward. I don’t know… I’ve got a lot to think about to be honest,” he said repeatedly.
“Just for me personally, going forward, the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.”
It was the first time James has spoken about the potential end of his career.
Following the loss, James told ESPN he will be considering retirement this offseason.
On Thursday, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported “there’s widespread skepticism” James will retire before a two-year, $97 million contract extension has yet to begin.
Separately, a source close to James believes he will return for season No. 21 and fulfill his contract, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
James, who turns 39 in December, has one season left on his contract with the Lakers, worth $46.7 million for 2023-24, and a player option for the following season worth $50.4 million.
Monday’s loss marked James’ 282nd playoff game of his career.
He finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists while playing through a right foot injury he sustained against the Mavericks on Feb. 26.
The injury caused him to miss a month late in the regular season, reportedly due to a torn tendon.
James is set to undergo further medical testing, with The Athletic reporting a surgery that could sideline him for two months during the offseason is among the possibilities.
If surgery is necessary, the 19-time All-Star would still be expected to recover by the start of training camp.
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