NBA

LeBron James undecided on NBA future after Lakers elimination

By Sports Desk April 30, 2024

LeBron James says he "does not have an answer" on his NBA future after the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in their first-round playoff series.

The Nuggets emerged triumphant with a 4-1 series win after beating the Lakers 108-106 in an entertaining Game 5 on Monday.

Despite playing through a calf strain, Jamal Murray hit a pull-up 14-footer with 3.6 seconds remaining of a game which saw the two teams repeatedly trade leads.

LeBron hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 26 seconds left to give the Lakers hope, but Murray drove to his left and pulled up for the go-ahead jumper over Austin Reaves.

After the painful narrow loss, LeBron was asked how he would approach any decision about Year 22 in the NBA.

"I do not have an answer to be honest, I have not given it much thought," he said, per ESPN.

"We will cross that when we need to. [I will evaluate] what's best for my career."

Asked if the Nuggets game was likely to be his last in a Lakers jersey, the 39-year-old replied: "I'm not going to answer that." 

This was the earliest playoff exit in James' 17 postseason trips. The only other time he was eliminated in the first round was 2021, in a six-game loss to the Phoenix Suns.

"Tip your hat to them," James said about Denver. "Defending champions, they are a great team. Super-well coached and made the plays down the stretch to win the series.

"You give credit where credit is due, that is for sure."

Much like last year, when the Nuggets swept the Lakers in the Western Conference finals, Denver’s late-game execution proved to be the difference.

Nikola Jokic finished with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists, while Michael Porter Jr. concluded his impressive series with a 26-point performance.

James led the Lakers with 30 points and 11 assists. Anthony Davis had 17 points and 15 rebounds but was not involved much in the offence late while playing through a shoulder injury.

LeBron has the option to enter the final year of his contract with the Lakers or he could become a free agent.

Also facing an uncertain future after the first-round exit is head coach Darvin Ham, who has been with the team for two years.

Ham, who is now on the hot seat, hopes the defeat will make him a better coach in the long run.

"My mind's all over the place right now," he said. "It's been a hell of a two years, though, I'll tell you that. Sitting in this seat, it's been a hell of a two years. 

"A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately, you want to win that ultimate prize. I know what that feels like. I had that feeling a couple of times.

"So, you want to do everything in your power to prevent and not continue to feel this feeling we're feeling now, the feeling of defeat. So again, control what I can control, continue to grow and hopefully be a better coach for it.

"I couldn’t be more proud of our crew despite everything that happened.

"Obviously, the series didn’t go in our favor, it didn’t start the way we wanted it to, but to win that one at home, fight tooth and nail to get this one, our guys showed a lot of guts and a lot of character."

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