LeBron James Retirement Odds: Will King James Call It Quits?

Cryptic comments from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James following his team's rapid dispatch from the Western Conference Finals have some wondering if he's played his final NBA game. Oddsmakers have established a market on LeBron to leave the league.

Last Updated: May 23, 2023 1:15 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
LeBron James NBA Los Angeles Lakers
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James raised eyebrows with his postgame comments around his possible retirement following the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss — and series sweep — to the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.

"I got a lot to think about," a dejected James told the media. "Just personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about."

The threat of the league’s newly crowned leading scorer packing it in after 20 years in the league has NBA odds on LeBron James’ retirement surfacing at sportsbooks, with some online shops posting props early Tuesday morning. 

LeBron James retirement odds

Outcome Odds
No -1,000
Yes +550

Those markets currently have “No” as a -1,000 favorite, with “Yes” for LeBron will retire paying out at +550. Those odds would convert to a 91% chance of LeBron being back in 2023-24, with the chances of retirement a little better than 15%. 

I even got in on the fun, posting my own hypothetical odds around the future of King James, setting a 21st NBA campaign as a -2,000 front runner — carrying a 95% implied probability. My odds priced James hanging up his Nikes at +900, which translates to a 10% chance of happening.

James has plenty of reasons to stick around

James still has one more year left on his contract with Los Angeles, as well as a player option for the 2024-2025 season, and is far from finished in terms of his output. At 38 years old, he averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists for the Lakers. He also remains one of the best defenders in the league.

James has previously said that he would love to play into his 40s and either team up or play against his sons in the pros. His oldest son, Bronny, just committed to Southern California and enters the 2023-24 NCAA schedule as 19th-highest recruit, according to ESPN. His other son, Bryce, would be part of the 2025 recruitment class.

LeBron James next team odds

On top of the LeBron James retirement odds, some online books have also offered odds on which team James would play for — if not the Lakers — in 2023-24.

Team (if not the Lakers) Odds
76ers Philadelphia 76ers +300
Knicks New York Knicks +300
Clippers Los Angeles Clippers +500
Cavs Cleveland Cavaliers +700
Suns Phoenix Suns +800
Warriors Golden State Warriors +900
Heat Miami Heat +1,000
Mavericks Dallas Mavericks +1,000
Kings Sacramento Kings +1,200
Bucks Milwaukee Bucks +1,800

At the top of the list are the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks both at +300, followed by the L.A. Clippers at +500, the Cleveland Cavaliers at +700, the Phoenix Suns at +800, and the Golden State Warriors at +900.

As for a LeBron-led Lakers team in 2023-24, next year’s NBA championship odds are already available at some books, with Los Angeles sitting at +1,000 as the fifth overall choice of oddsmakers. 

The Lakers started slow this past season with a 25-31 record before revamping their roster with a series of moves at the trade deadline. That new-look team closed out the campaign going 18-8 and earned the No. 7 seed in the play-in tournament before advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

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