LeBron James’ former teammate wants Lakers star to retire

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James’ former teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers — Kendrick Perkins — called on the 39-year-old to retire from the NBA.

“At the end of the day, man, I hate to say it, but I believe this in my soul right now,” Perkins said regarding his opinion that James should retire following his 21st NBA season. “I wish LeBron James would retire, not because I don’t wanna see more of LeBron James, not because I don’t appreciate LeBron James.

“But I honestly believe deep down inside, the more LeBron James continue to play the game of basketball, the more it’s gonna hurt his legacy and the more it’s gonna continue to hurt his G.O.A.T. argument. Because long as he step foot on that floor, every single season, it’s gonna be expectations of him of winning a championship. And when he don’t do that, we’re gonna be looking at him and saying, ‘Well, what happened now?'”

Perkins played alongside James on the Cavaliers during the 2014-15 and 2017-18 seasons, but he didn’t see the floor all that often. Across 18 total regular-season appearances with Cleveland, he averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field.

For the second year in a row, James and the Lakers’ season came to an end at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. After getting swept in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, Los Angeles was eliminated in five games in the opening round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

But James did all he could to try to make the first-round series competitive. He played in all five games and averaged 27.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.0 block and 2.4 steals per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3-point range.

The league’s oldest player led the Lakers in points, assists and steals per game versus the defending NBA champions. Additionally, he scored 25 points or more in every game of the series and shot better than 50 percent from the field in all but one game.

James’ high level of play against the Nuggets hints at the notion that he still has a lot left in the tank and remains one of the NBA’s best players.

But it’s debatable whether James will have a legitimate shot at winning another title next season should he decide to remain with the Lakers. Ever since the Lakers won the 2020 title, the team has made it past the first round of the playoffs just once.

Additionally, the Lakers don’t have a lot of solid 3-point shooters to complement James’ playmaking brilliance. During the 2023-24 regular season, Los Angeles ranked 24th in the NBA in 3-pointers made per contest (11.8).

If James does indeed opt to continue playing for the Lakers, hopefully the team’s front office will work to surround the forward with more capable 3-point threats before the start of the 2024-25 campaign.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.