It's no secret Luka Doncic idolizes LeBron James. The Slovenian grew up watching the Los Angeles Lakers star, and there are clear shades of LeBron in his playing style. Interestingly, James himself said recently that the Dallas Mavericks youngster is his current favorite player under 25, which is not surprising given how phenomenal he has been since arriving in the NBA in 2018.
With this common admiration for each other, one can't help but wonder: can LeBron and Luka ever team up together? And we're not talking about being in the All-Star team since we all know James loves drafting Luka. But instead, can they really play together in one franchise?
LUKA. He's my fav player!!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 17, 2022
In the NBA, nothing is impossible. However, considering James' age, it might be a bit difficult.
Can LeBron James and Luka Doncic team up with the Lakers?
It is important to note that Luka Doncic signed a five-year, $207 million extension with the Mavs during the 2021 offseason. With that said, unless the Lakers make a trade for the 23-year-old, it's unlikely he'll leave the Mavs.
Of course there is the very slim chance of Doncic demanding a trade from the Mavs, especially if he doesn't see the team contending for the championship any time soon. If Dallas is unable to win this 2022 after reaching the Western Conference Finals, Doncic might just have enough and demand to join a team that will give him the best chance to win.
But realistically speaking, it's hard to see that from happening. The Mavs will always do their best to keep Luka no matter what. Besides, he does look happy with the team in Dallas. He'll at least give it another year or two even if they fail in the 2022 postseason.
At LeBron's age (37), the Lakers will need to make a move for Luka this offseason or the next if they want the two to play alongside each other. LA is always a destination for stars, and the team itself has always gone star hunting every offseason to improve their chances of winning.
Nonetheless, another problem is the Lakers don't have much assets to even acquire a player of Luka's caliber. Heck, they might even need to trade both LeBron and Anthony Davis to the Mavs just to balance it out.
With the way things are now, it's just difficult for the Lakers to make the James-Doncic duo a reality.
How about with the Mavs?
If not with the Lakers, then how about the Mavs, right? Surely, James joining Dallas is a more realistic idea considering the situation.
LeBron is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023 if he doesn't sign a new extension with the Lakers this offseason, and if he chooses to go to the free agent market, he can definitely try to join the Mavs and mentor Doncic. That is not a bad scenario at all.
After all, who doesn't want James' genius on their team? He can definitely teach Luka and the young ones that championship mentality that has brought him to multiple NBA Finals throughout his career.
But here's the problem for LeBron James. He also expressed his desire to play alongside his eldest son Bronny James in the NBA, highlighting that he'll try to sign with the team that drafts his son when he becomes eligible in 2024. In his Twitter Q&A, James admitted that it is still “100%” the plan.
Unfortunately, Mavs owner Mark Cuban is not a big fan of that move. The billionaire is not closing the door on possibly drafting Bronny, but he said that it depends on how the young James develops. Put simply, if there are other better options, the Mavs won't pick him.
Cuban doesn't seem to be too high on the idea of getting LeBron, as they are basically getting the same thing from Doncic. If they just want to get LeBron, they'll draft Bronny for sure. However, that isn't the case for Dallas.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. It depends on the circumstances and how good Bronny is. Would I just burn (a second-round pick) just to burn it? Probably not. And again, we’ll have this guy named Luka (Doncic) who is really, really good. And so it would really depend on the team that we have around him,” Cuban said back in February.
If James is a little bit younger, there is a good chance for him and Luka to be able to play together in one team. James can also try to extend his career, which is possible given how much he takes care of his body. However, as it currently stands, don't get your hopes up on a LeBron-Luka partnership be it on the Lakers or Mavs.