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LeBron: I see myself staying with Lakers 'as long as I can play'

Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James reiterated his desire to play for the franchise after a handful of cryptic comments over the All-Star break.

"This is a franchise I see myself being with. I'm here, I'm here," James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin after the Lakers' 105-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. "I see myself being with the purple and gold as long as I can play."

James' homecoming in Cleveland for the 2021-22 All-Star festivities fueled speculation about his future as his 19-year career begins to wind down. He commented on his desire to eventually team up with his son, Bronny, and didn't rule out another stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 37-year-old backed up his statement on wanting to play with Bronny, saying Friday: "If I can play with my son, I would love to do that. ...That doesn't mean I don't want to be with this franchise."

James' agent, Rich Paul, reportedly met with the Lakers' front office this week to discuss James' future with Los Angeles beyond the end of his contract following the 2022-23 season.

The Lakers are just 27-32 this season, sitting ninth in the Western Conference two years after winning an NBA championship.

Much of the disappointment around the team's campaign has come due to a lack of cohesion between James and fellow stars Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, who have combined to miss 40 games.

"I do wish that we were just playing better basketball and between me, AD, and Russ on the floor at the same time," James said. "That's the biggest disappointment so far, that us three - because we all wanted to see this work, we just haven't been on the floor."

With Davis out at least three more weeks with a foot injury, James will have to be the driving force in righting the ship as the Lakers aim for a deep playoff run.

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