Unlike at the end of the 2022-23 season, LeBron James appears to be at ease about playing another year after the Los Angeles Lakers exited the 2024 NBA playoffs at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. There was plenty of retirement talk last year, but this season, it appears to be a foregone conclusion that James will be suiting up for next season, as well as the year following that. However, there are no guarantees that the Lakers will be able to keep James.

For starters, James has a player option worth $51.4 million for the 2024-25 season which he could decline; per Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints, this appears to be the most likely route for the NBA's all-time leading scorer to take. The good news for Lakers fans is that there is a chance still that James could opt into his contract for next season, as Jovan Buha and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that both the opt in and opt out routes are “on the table”.

LeBron James has always been someone who prefers to maintain contract flexibility; throughout his years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he did not sign long-term extensions. This has allowed him to enter free agency when he so desires. James, however, bucked his usual convention when he signed a two-year extension with the Lakers back in 2022.

Now, it's unclear what James will weigh heavier in his looming contract decision. Will it be his desire to play with his son Bronny, who is impressing teams at the draft combine? Or will it be his goal to snatch ring number five before he calls it quits? And will either of these goals be attainable if James stays with the Lakers? These are the questions that will be answered when we head into an offseason full of uncertainty.

Will LeBron James stay in LA?

LeBron James has established a stable life for him and his family in Los Angeles, so the smart money is on him staying with the Lakers regardless of whether or not he opts into his contract for next season. Moreover, if push comes to shove, the Lakers might be able to draft Bronny James anyway to convince LeBron to stay, as they have the 17th overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft to work with. Now, it's unclear if it's worth picking Bronny at that spot just to secure James' services for the remaining few years of his career.

There is plenty of talk as well that the Lakers might be able to swing a trade for a star that could potentially be available on the market. The likes of Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young have been brought up as potential trade targets, while Darius Garland could also be an option.

But it looks like LeBron James has more grand ideas on how to make the most out of his final few years in the association. According to Siegel, James' offseason decision will be affected mightily by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant's plans; with the three teaming up to redeem Team USA in the 2024 Olympics after a disappointing showing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, there will undoubtedly be talks among the three regarding a potential team-up.

Lakers fans better buckle up for an eventful offseason as they await James' decision and whether or not he'll be willing to spend the final few years of his career elsewhere to give himself a shot at a title before he hangs it up.