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LeBron James has never spent more than seven consecutive years playing for the same team during his 21-year NBA career, and now, midway through his sixth season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, it's starting to seem like he's hitting his limit with the purple and gold. As of this writing, the Lakers are a .500 team at 25-25, good enough for ninth place in the Western Conference. James tweeted an hourglass after a recent loss, and on Friday, his agent, Rich Paul, needed to shoot down rumors that he would be traded ahead of Thursday's deadline.

But on Saturday, James stoked another set of rumors with his comments during the Lakers' shootaround before their game against the New York Knicks. When James was asked if he has made a decision about whether he will pick up his player option with the Lakers next season, he responded with a simple "No."

This is par for the regular-season press conference course for James, who has been fielding questions about his future for more than a decade now. He simply does not share his plans during the season, instead letting the world know where he will play only when he's made a final decision during the free-agency period. But taken in conjunction with the disappointing season the Lakers have had, any uncertainty James presents publicly is going to feel pretty weighty.

James will turn 40 next season. If the Lakers aren't in the championship hunt this season, the odds of them returning there next season when he's a year older appear slim. Additionally, the Lakers might not have a first-round pick this June, when Bronny James becomes draft-eligible. The elder James has made it clear he plans to finish his career playing alongside his son. While contenders with cap space are a rarity in the modern NBA, it should be noted that there is at least one winning team (the Philadelphia 76ers) that should have the flexibility to offer James a max salary in free agency, and others would likely try through a sign-and-trade deal as well.

In a perfect world, James would probably prefer to remain with the Lakers. His family is entrenched in Los Angeles, and he's already won a championship in purple and gold. Another would push the Lakers past the Celtics for the all-time lead with 18, an honor he'd no doubt like to claim credit for. In all likelihood, James is being honest, but primarily for the sake of pressuring the Lakers to be active at the trade deadline in the hopes that this season can be salvaged.

But if it isn't? Well, Paul only said that James wouldn't be traded. He didn't say that James would retire a Laker, and James wouldn't even commit to remaining in L.A. beyond the season. James still has months to decide whether or not he'll pick up that option, but until he does, the possibility that he might leave the Lakers has to be treated as legitimate.