EL SEGUNDO, CA – LeBron James says he won’t step in when it comes to the off-season decision-making process at the Los Angeles Lakers that comes on one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
“It’s not my decision,” James said at a news conference on Monday before exit interviews with the team. “It’s not my decision to sit here and say, ‘Okay, that’s what we should put back on the list.’ That will be the front office decision. They may obviously ask me what I think but at the end of the day, they’re going to make the decision that they feel fits that privilege in the future” .
Since coming to the Lakers in the summer of 2018, Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka has referred to James as a “stakeholder,” allowing more influence from the star when it comes to people’s decisions than the average player-management relationship.
However, after the contribution of James and Anthony Davis resulted in Los Angeles overhauling its roster to trade with Russell Westbrook last summer only to see the team finish only 33-49 and fail to even qualify for the playing championship, there appears to be a shift in strategy.
“I think the front office will do whatever it takes to help this football club become a better football club from top to bottom,” James said. “Ask me for my opinion, I will give my opinion. But at the end of the day, they will make the decision that they feel is best for the franchise.”
James was the first of 14 players scheduled to speak to reporters on Monday. Bilinka Lakers coach Frank Vogel was not included in the interview list. The Lakers officially fired Vogel shortly after James met with reporters.
Prior to the announcement, James endorsed the coach he teamed with to win the 2020 championship.
“I respect Frank as a coach and as a man,” James said. “At the end of the day, I don’t know what will happen with Frank here, but I have nothing but respect for him.”
James also backed Westbrook, but stopped short of saying he wants to bring the same core group back to Los Angeles next season.
“One thing I love about Ross and will always love him is his competitive spirit, and what he brings into the game every night,” James said. “And when you’re in a profession where a lot of injuries happen and a lot of things happen and you have a guy who is reliable and can wear a uniform every night, that’s something I respect… I’m not going to sit here and make front office decisions and things like that, but I love being a colleague. in Ross”.
After playing in just 56 games due to various injuries, James said he needed the leave to recover. He said that Friday’s MRI of the left ankle sprain that had him sitting out in seven of his last eight games in Los Angeles revealed he would not need surgery or any kind of injection to aid the recovery process. However, he will need an additional four to six weeks of rest in his ankle before he can begin his off-season training.
“If we were the team I was hoping for and hope we were, I wouldn’t have played the New Orleans game after the injury,” James said of his ankle. “It just made it kind of worse. But I wanted to see if we could do a late batch.”
With his 20th season approaching and turning 38 in December, James said he remains committed to making a late push into his career to add another championship to his résumé. He has retracted a description that his choice to join the Lakers was anything but a success.
“I came here to win a championship and I want to win more. So I accomplished what I wanted to achieve, but I’m still hungry for more,” James said. “I’m sure this organization wants the same. That’s what this organization has always been about. … I did it. We did it. But I want to do it again.”
While James said in February that “this is a privilege I see myself with” going forward, he did not discuss a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension that would be eligible to sign in August with the Lakers.
“Technically, because of the collective bargaining agreement, it can’t even be discussed until later in the year,” James said. “So, we get to this point, we’ll see.”
James, who finished the season averaging 30.3 points but was not eligible for the league title because he needed to play at least two more games to qualify, said he has no intention of playing those games after Los Angeles’ exit from the playoffs.
“Once we were eliminated from the final, there was nothing to talk about, nothing to think about,” James said. “I’m not going to be there just to play meaningless matches trying to win a scoring title. That’s what’s below me and where I’m at in my career. … for me, I’m 19 and going after a scoring title when you don’t do postseason is the weirdest thing on the launch”.