Los Angeles Lakers team leader Rob Pelinka said Tuesday he hopes LeBron James will continue his NBA career but said the NBA superstar has “the right” to retire.
James, 38, stunned the basketball world late Monday after telling ESPN he was considering ending his glittering 20-season career in the NBA.
His comments came after a 40-point performance in the Lakers’ 113-111 loss to the Nuggets, which advanced to the NBA Finals after completing a 4-0 win over the 17-time champion.
Lakers general manager Pelinka said on Tuesday that he and head coach Darvin Ham will soon have talks with James to discuss his futurewhile insisting the club will support whatever he chooses to do.
“The coach and I will talk to LeBron in the coming days,” Pelinka said.
“We all know that he speaks for himself and we will look forward to those conversations when the time is right.
“But I will say this – LeBron has devoted as much to the game of basketball as anyone has ever played.
“And when you do that, it’s up to you to decide if you’re going to give more.”
Pelinka said it’s possible James has reached an “inflection point” in his career.
“Our job at the Lakers organization is to support any player on our team should they reach a turning point in their career,” Pelinka said.
“Surrounding LeBron are extraordinary people. I’m sure he’ll talk to them. In the coming days we will be in touch with him and his team and really offer nothing but support to him.
“Obviously, our hope is that his career will continue. But we wanted to give him time to have that inflection point and support him in everything he does.”
Ham echoed Pelinka’s comments, praising James for his contributions in a season that saw the Lakers start miserably 2-10 before retooling their squad and deep into the knockout round.
Ham joked: “I think I was also ready to retire last night. “But with all honesty and seriousness, LeBron has the right to do whatever he wants to do.
“I just want to thank him…especially him, for being a consistent resource for me as head coach for the first time.
“I’ve been in the game for a long time and he’s been the best source of support, understanding and communication I’ve had all year. He is right at the front and center of me and my staff. So he has the right to decide whatever he wants to do.”
Pelinka meanwhile said that the Lakers hope to keep the core of the squad that ended the season as they build for the future.
“We are incredibly proud of this team…maintaining that continuity will be important,” says Pelinka.
“In the end we were beaten by a team with great continuity. They have a group of players who have been together for many seasons and that shows in the way they play. So continuity is a top priority for us.”
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