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How much longer will LeBron James be ok with the Lakers prioritizing their future without him?

LeBron James signed his extension with the understanding that the Lakers front office would retool around him. They haven’t, and his patience appears to be wearing thin.

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LeBron James is running out of time. He’s clearly still capable of incredible basketball, but he’s also been on the injury reports more often than not the last couple years and hasn’t really figured into the title picture for now three straight seasons. He’s never been particularly patient but, as this final chapter of his prime slips away, he’s shown more resignation than urgency. It’s now fair to wonder why and for how long he’ll maintain that approach.

When James originally signed with the Lakers, he legitimized an organization in flux. Months prior, Jeanie Buss had just taken wrestled control from her brother, Jim. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka still hadn’t worked a full year in their positions and had no prior experience running a franchise. James arriving slapped some duct tape over some foundational issues and the hope was they’d get resolved as everyone grows in their roles.

Johnson has since stepped away to focus on tweeting, Jeanie has relied even more exclusively on friends and family, Pelinka has launched one of the more pointless yet effective shadow tank campaigns in recent memory, and the Lakers have gone from winning a championship only a few seasons ago to one of the league’s most consistently inept organizations.

Now, with yet another season sliding away, and James so aware of his chances at even making the playoffs slipping with it that he’s deleting tweets about the postseason, there still doesn’t seem to be any real urgency from anyone. It’s maddening.

Frankly, it appears everyone is okay riding out this season until they can all break from each other. The soonest a break can happen is this summer because of the extension James signed and no one seems to think he’ll push that hard for a trade, but no one appears all that confident in the Lakers-James relationship continuing and if it does, it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with basketball.

If I had to isolate and explain why everything has gone wrong with the Lakers, I’d start with that. No one involved seems very focused on basketball. Pelinka and everyone else in Buss’ infamous inner circle (through their inaction) appear focused on self-preservation above all else. James seems focused on amassing as much wealth as he can — with the Lakers helping make that happen — so he can buy a franchise once his career is over.

But with no one prioritizing fixing what’s ailed the Lakers, the Lakers will continue to ail. So we’ll go through yet another sad, disappointing season and watch a product everyone responsible for it knows is subpar. Lakers exceptionalism at this point is defined by exceptional ineptitude no one gets held accountable for because of their Lakers roots.

To discuss all this, I spoke to Kyle Goon of The Southern California New Group and specifically about the piece he wrote for The Orange County Register about how the Lakers haven’t upheld their end of the bargain with James and Anthony Davis.

You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.

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