If things felt like they escalated quickly between LeBron James and the Lakers, it’s because it certainly did. Less than two weeks ago, the Lakers stood pat at the trade deadline and, knowingly or not, ignited a war or words between themselves and Klutch Sports.
LeBron James and Rich Paul are no strangers to battles in the media and the All-Star weekend served as a perfect stage to let loose in the typical passive-aggressive fashion that James is akin to.
A compliment to Thunder general manager Sam Presti here, a nod to Cavs general manager Koby Altman there. Mix in the quote about the door never being closed on a return to Cleveland and, to paraphrase a lyric from Drake that LeBron has almost certainly mumbled along to on his Instagram Story at some point, things went 0 to 100 real quick.
With either a sense of mission accomplished or a realization of a story gotten too big too fast, both sides are now ready to walk things back.
In a piece by Bill Oram on The Athletic on Wednesday, a Lakers source insisted that the team is not set to battle against James and “no hard feelings” exist.
So far, the Lakers haven’t shown a particular willingness to engage in battle with their superstar, with sources saying that Pelinka has insisted internally that there are no hard feelings between the two sides.
On the flip side, Shams Charania also of The Athletic, who has long served as one of the mouthpieces for Klutch Sports, appeared on “The Pat McAfee Show” and walked back the notion of LeBron’s exit from Los Angeles being imminent.
"I personally don't see a scenario where LeBron James is bolting from the Lakers to the Cavs.. from everything I've been told his plan is to be a Laker for the foreseeable future" ~@ShamsCharania#PMSLive pic.twitter.com/rIMYixubOv— ️at McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 23, 2022
♂️ pic.twitter.com/fNO210B7ki— Vinay Killawala (@vkillem) February 23, 2022
In summary, the two sides made their point and are now ready to resume as normal moving forward. The modern NBA is not like a normal relationship where the two parties talk things out behind closed doors and move on. Instead, the two parties portray themselves as sources to prominent media figures to get their points across in a far more public manner.
The end result is the back-and-forth across The Athletic, media days and ESPN in recent weeks. But with all of it out of their system, the Lakers have to return to the court for at least the final 24 games of the season and see what comes of it before addressing the matter down the road.
What that future may hold is unclear, especially so after the recent war of words. But, for now, the two sides are standing down as they finish out the season.
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