clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Where do LeBron James and the Lakers stand after a polarizing trade deadline?

Let’s discuss how LeBron James seems to feel about the Lakers — and where they might be heading — following a trade deadline he can’t be happy about.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

2020 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James is almost never direct in his public messaging. Decades of managing his brand have made him one of the more image-conscious athletes in the history of professional sports. And yet, in the Los Angeles Lakers’ final game before the NBA trade deadline, he was uncharacteristically direct when asked about this current roster.

“No,” was James’ response to a question about whether this team can compete at the highest level as currently constructed. The response was shocking, honestly, and felt like a direct challenge to management to fix this roster, even if he clearly had a hand in putting it together.

Obviously, the rest is history. The Lakers have not done a thing to change this roster since that quote, despite clear internal and external pressure to do so. To decipher what all this means, I welcomed Jorge Sedano of ESPN, someone who watched up close as James’ tenure in Miami came to an end.

Sedano and I started with that trade deadline, and the message from ownership/management to James, Rich Paul and Anthony Davis that it’s on them to fix the bed they made — even if Rob Pelinka was’t blameless in making this mess, either.

The last time James was challenged like that, he hopped on a plane from Miami and never returned, and that was by Pat Riley. No offense to Pelinka, Jeanie Buss, or anyone in the Lakers’ organization right now, but you could add up their collective cache, and it isn’t coming close to Riley’s.

James isn’t under contract beyond next season. We know he has interest in playing with his son, Bronny, and his departures can usually be traced back via breadcrumbs he dropped along the way. Did the combination of clear distaste for the roster he’s on and the ensuing inaction get him to start dropping pieces of bread? We tried discussed all that and more.

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.