Nuggets win over Lakers leads to LeBron quote that sends shockwaves through NBA world

Apr 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the third
Apr 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the third / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets’ gentlemen’s sweep over the Lakers felt almost inevitable and like a foregone conclusion at times. There was never much doubt about who was the better team and the only real drama was whether the series would end in a sweep or not.

Like last season, the Lakers fought hard and made the games competitive - even stealing one this time around - but by the end of the series it is abundantly clear that the Lakers have a long way to go if they want to catch up with the Nuggets and compete for an NBA championship. 

Can LeBron win another title with the Lakers?

This has been clear to some in NBA circles for a while, and I’m sure it has occurred to LeBron James at least once or twice. The iconic star is entering his 40s, and while still playing at a high level, he’s not good enough to carry a team anymore. 

The Lakers don’t have a good enough squad around James and at this point in his career, if he wants a shot at another ring, he may have to pack his bags and join a new team for the fourth time in his career. Many NBA media members had been speculating about LeBron’s future even before this series was over, but now James himself has added intrigue with his postgame quotes.

LeBron's postgame quote

At the end of his press conference following the series-ending loss, James was asked if he had thought that it may have been his last game in a Lakers uniform. He paused for a minute, reflecting on the question before smiling and responding, “I’m not gonna answer that. I appreciate it.” He then dropped the microphone and left the podium to begin his offseason.

This seemingly harmless quote had an immediate ripple effect throughout the basketball world and will surely be the source of rampant speculation for the next few months. James has a player option with the Lakers which he can decline and become a free agent this summer.

It’s hard to tell exactly what James values most at this point. He may want to finish his career in LA and be near his family, he may want to team up with his son Bronny if he gets drafted, or he may want to chase a ring and go to the team that offers him the best chance to win.

The ball is in LeBron’s court and he will make the final decision, one that will dramatically alter the league next season. This interview response may have seemed innocuous enough, but LeBron knew exactly what he was doing.