Could the Los Angeles Lakers actually do the unthinkable and trade LeBron James?
Probably not, but it’s hard to ignore the report from Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss actually considered moving James due to her vexation over the fact that James and his camp leaked the Anthony Davis trade rumors.
Now, is the report true? Who knows, but it’s just the latest bullet point an ever-growing list of them that indicates how much of a disaster LeBron’s first year in Los Angeles has been.
The Lakers aren’t going to the playoffs, they didn’t land any star players to play alongside of James, free agents don’t seem to want to sign there and James just had his first major injury and turns 35 years old next December.
What else could go wrong?
Well, how about the fact that the Lakers wouldn’t even get that much for LeBron even if they did try to deal him?
Bucher asked a couple of executives whether or not they would deal for James at this stage, and here were the responses:
“Hmmm. At this point, probably not, given where we are,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “I wouldn’t want to gut the team for a player that isn’t committed and is toward the end of his career.”
Now, as for the other executive:
“Depends on what I’d have to give up,” he said. “I wouldn’t roll up the truck and give more than one protected first[-round pick].”
Sure, you can say that that is only two executives out of the other 29 front offices in the league, but let’s face it: there was a time when every single franchise in basketball would have jumped at the chance to add LeBron.
But in 2019, the idea of trading for James is met with trepidation, and rightfully so.
The fact of the matter is that this isn’t the same LeBron James from the Miami Heat days, nor is it even the same James from a year ago. This is a player who, again, is coming off of the first legitimate injury of his career and has a ton of mileage on his odometer.
Is he still effective? Absolutely. Still the best player in the NBA? Debatable, but probably. Worth adding to your team? Ehh.
Let’s remember that when you get James, you aren’t just getting a superstar on the court. You are getting a whole media show that can completely destroy a locker room, and the Lakers have seemed to fall victim to that this season.
There is a reason why fellow stars simply do not want to team up with LeBron anymore. They just do not want to deal with the headache of being scapegoated when the team loses in the playoffs, and they do not want to have to deal with the constant media circus.
You think LaVar Ball is bad? James is that multiplied by 20. Of course, James doesn’t really have the same delusions of grandeur and does not have Ball’s boisterous personality, but Ball is not even really taken all that seriously. James, on the other hand, is the center of attention wherever he goes, and when he is unhappy or perturbed in any way, it reverberates tenfold.
Now, obviously, James is great enough where he will instantly elevate any team for which he plays on the floor. I think we probably need to put a pin in the idea that LeBron immediately makes any team he joins a title contender, as evidenced by the fact that the Lakers don’t even look like they are going to finish at .500 this season, but he definitely makes you considerably better.
However, you just have to wonder if it is worth the trouble.
All things considered, the Lakers aren’t trading James. First of all, it would completely undermine their plan and would set them back even further. Second, they are not going to receive anything close to equal value.
But it’s just the idea that the thought of potentially dealing James has even crossed Buss’ mind that is the real story here and tells you just where the Lakers are right now.
While there were certainly those who questioned just how good LA would be this season and whether or not the Lakers could even win a playoff series, I don’t think there was anyone who thought that the team would be this bad.
To be fair, the Lakers have been pummeled by injuries all year long, but even when they have been healthy, they have not looked great, and since James returned from his groin injury in late January, things have only gotten worse.
Basically, the Lakers are stuck, and if they are unable to land another star to play sidekick to James this summer, the future will look even bleaker than it does at the current point in time.