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No, no one reported that Lonzo Ball has to be traded for LeBron James to sign with the Lakers

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Lonzo Ball might indeed have to be traded for LeBron James to sign with the Lakers, but we don’t know that yet, and more importantly, no one reputable has said so publicly.

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The rumors about Kawhi Leonard and his interest in joining the Los Angeles Lakers have (understandably) kicked the aggregation industrial process into overdrive, but the people writing about NBA trade rumors that Los Angeles needs to deal Lonzo Ball if they want to sign LeBron James might be running with something that hasn’t quite been said.

Early Saturday morning, a number of outlets started writing articles that there was supposedly a “report” that the Lakers would have to trade Lonzo Ball if they wanted to sign LeBron James, most of which seemed to trace back to this tweet:

The issue? That’s isn’t really what Haynes seemed to say at all. Here is the full transcript of what he said on “Afternoons on ESPNLA with Marcellus and Travis,” with the question in bold:

If the Spurs have to do a deal with the Lakers, or at least that’s the best deal available to them, what’s the cost to LA? What are the pieces and what’s the money that has to work out going back the other way?

”That’s a good question. That’s something I haven’t been able to look in to, but I think any deal that you’re looking to make, or you’re trying to make to bring in a big piece, Lonzo Ball is going to be in that. Lonzo Ball is going to be in that for sure. Obviously the Lakers are trying to rid themselves of Luol Deng’s contract. Ingram could be in play, I’ve heard Ingram’s name mentioned by some... The one constant that I’ve heard is Lonzo Ball. I think anyway, if LeBron were to come, there probably wouldn’t be a need for Lonzo Ball because we know how ball dominant LeBron James is, so it’s still early in the process right now but as the days go on and as we get more and more information, we’ll start hearing more clearly on what those pieces could look like.”

That’s a long quote, so let’s break this down a little bit more granularly:

That’s a good question. That’s something I haven’t been able to look in to

Okay, so that phrasing would seem to imply he’s not fully reporting, but mostly sharing his opinion or using information he has on background.

but I think any deal that you’re looking to make, or you’re trying to make to bring in a big piece, Lonzo Ball is going to be in that. Lonzo Ball is going to be in that for sure.

“I think” would also seem to imply this is his opinion, and probably not a crazy one. After all, Ball is one of the Lakers’ most valuable young players and would seem like one piece that would draw interest from teams if the Lakers were indeed going to make a trade. Nevertheless, this is hardly a report that he has to be gone for LeBron.

Let’s keep going.

Obviously the Lakers are trying to rid themselves of Luol Deng’s contract.

Obviously.

Ingram could be in play, I’ve heard Ingram’s name mentioned by some...

So why is no one running with Ingram being in play? Is it that Haynes said “could” and wasn’t necessarily saying “is” and that “some” is pretty nebulous attribution? Or is it because no one listened to the actual quote and just ran with a tweet?

My guess would be the latter, but let’s keep moving.

The one constant that I’ve heard is Lonzo Ball.

Oh wait is this the report? Here we go, let’s get ready (emphasis mine).

I think anyway, if LeBron were to come, there probably wouldn’t be a need for Lonzo Ball because we know how ball dominant LeBron James is, so it’s still early in the process right now but as the days go on and as we get more and more information, we’ll start hearing more clearly on what those pieces could look like.”

That would hardly appear to be some report that LeBron is refusing to suit up with Ball, and more of an opinion that Ball could theoretically not be necessary (although there have been scattered reports that James wants to be playing more off the ball in his next destination, and Ball is hardly some ball-dominant point guard anyway).

All this pointed out, we can’t rule out that James doesn’t want to play with Ball, or at least doesn’t want to deal with his father. Notably, James fired back at LaVar Ball for mentioning his kids earlier this year, although LaVar says his quotes were taken out of context.

So it’s entirely possible that James doesn’t want to deal with the Ball family circus, and might not want Lonzo on the team. However, no one seems to have reported that, and LaVar stuff aside, LeBron has seemed to go out of his way to praise Lonzo as well as offering him advice after the Lakers took on the Cavaliers this year, and even wished Lonzo a happy birthday, which he definitely hasn’t done for every young Laker (sorry, Tyler Ennis. Maybe next year).

It’s easy to see why people wrote about this. The tweet was a little misleading, and there are enough casual Lakers fans like your parents fed up enough with LaVar and reality show coverage that follows him and his family everywhere that an article with drama that suggests that Lonzo might be a problem and the Lakers might have to ship him out will get clicks.

I get it, I really do. It’s just that no one has really reported that that’s the case, and so if you read this far, don’t run with it as fact, even if it’s still possible.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.