The Los Angeles Lakers, sitting at 2-9 and just half a game out of last place in the Western Conference, have not been competitive this season. And from the sound of the latest leaks, LeBron James — as you would expect — is less than pleased about that.
Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report dropped his latest story on the latter outlet on Friday afternoon, and in addition to teasing some trade scuttlebutt about who the Lakers may be interested in and who they are and aren’t receiving calls about on their own roster, he also made it clear that there is an overall push for improvement and moves are coming straight from LeBron James.
First, Haynes confirmed some news that long had been assumed, but had not previously been explicitly reported: LeBron agreed to re-sign with the Lakers in August because they promised to make sure he could compete as he enters his twilight years.
When four-time MVP LeBron James agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million extension in August, the Los Angeles Lakers made a promise to supply him with the necessary pieces to compete for a championship throughout the duration of his tenure.
Inside the critical decisions for the Lakers, how it could prompt key players to sour on the direction of the franchise, and LeBron James’ unwillingness to stand pat and waste a season, league sources tell @BleacherReport: https://t.co/rn4cX9JGZ1— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 10, 2022
But why is that coming out now? Well, if you read between the lines of Haynes’ story, it’s pretty clear that it’s because LeBron doesn’t feel like the Lakers have done that (emphasis mine):
The organization is facing a critical decision in the James era, a decision that could prompt key players to sour on the direction of the franchise, league sources tell Bleacher Report.
James, who turns 38 next month and is in Year 20 of his NBA career, does not want to waste a season of his high-level playing days in hopes of incoming reinforcements for the 2023-24 campaign, sources say. Other core players on the roster would likewise prefer those picks to be used to elevate this year’s team.
Haynes’ story is worth reading in its entirety, but as for who those key players could be, it’s pretty clear the answer is LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Not only does Haynes have an extensive history of getting scoops about players with Klutch Sports — the agency that reps LeBron and AD — but the story also includes reporting that Rich Paul has not received calls about Davis from other interested teams, something that likely only the man himself would know. This may technically be getting said anonymously, but it’s pretty clear where it’s coming from.
Still, suffice to say that none of this is likely news to the Lakers, either. If this stuff is getting leaked, the team surely been made well aware of James’ feelings about how much they need to make a move, and that he seems to feel they aren’t living up to their end of the unwritten bargain they struck this summer when he extended.
Now, is the team wrong to hold out anyway? In a vacuum, maybe not. With James and Davis already dealing with injuries, the group starting this far behind the eight-ball in terms of record, and the overall roster not necessarily looking worthwhile of “saving” with a trade anyway, the front office may be making the prudent choice to hold onto those picks at this point. Especially when it’s not even clear James is going to be able to stay on the floor to work with any reinforcements he does successfully agitate for:
James is officially listed as doubtful for Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. https://t.co/nmfaMScrEJ— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 10, 2022
James may miss home games Friday vs. Kings and Sunday vs. Nets, which would give him and the Lakers eight days off until the next contest (Nov. 18 vs. Pistons) to recover from foot and adductor issues. https://t.co/NSjRH7BCQh— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 10, 2022
But that doesn’t mean James is going to be happy about it, and given how this team has always seemed to prioritize keeping a good image with stars so that future talent reinforcements will relocate to Los Angeles, that may complicate things down the line.
But hey, at least they already extended the guy who made this mess. Would hate for him to have felt insecure amidst all this turbulence and drama.