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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James isn’t going anywhere despite growing speculation about his future with the Purple and Gold amid another disappointing regular season.
“LeBron won’t be traded, and we aren’t asking to be,” James’ agent, Rich Paul, said Friday, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
James, 39, doesn’t have much time left in the NBA, and he’s aiming to win a fifth championship before he retires.
However, the Lakers aren’t close to being considered a title contender this season, even after beating the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.
The Purple and Gold sit ninth in the Western Conference with a 25-25 record, and it’s hard to envision the team competing with the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets for a top seed.
Amid the team’s struggles, James sparked trade rumors when he posted a simple hourglass emoji on X, formerly known as Twitter, appearing to indicate that time is ticking:
The post came after the Lakers’ 138-122 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday in which he finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, one block and one steal. While meeting with reporters after the game, he was candid in his frustration with how things have gone through the first half of the season.
“We could, on any given night, beat any team in the NBA. And then on any given night we get our ass kicked by any team in the NBA,” James said. “… That’s where we are.”
He added: “I don’t have any message for my teammates. Just go out and do your job”
While James won’t be traded ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 8 deadline, he has a $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 campaign that he can decline to become a free agent.
With the Lakers having struggled to put together a contending team since winning the NBA title in 2020, it’s worth wondering whether the Purple and Gold can provide James with the farewell tour he deserves for what has been a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
After the 2023-24 campaign wraps up, all eyes will be on the four-time MVP to see whether he picks up his player option.
It’s important to note that James has been vocal about wanting to play in the NBA with his son, USC freshman Bronny James, who will be eligible for the 2024 draft.