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Paul Pierce says he’d trade LeBron James if Lakers get No. 1 pick

LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Zion Williamson

Longtime NBA icon and current ESPN analyst Paul Pierce gave his version of an unpopular opinion Sunday, telling the audience he would be willing to trade LeBron James if the Los Angeles Lakers could muster the No. 1 pick in the draft, expected to materialize as Zion Williamson.

Pierce was prompted by co-panelist Chauncey Billups of the unlikely event that the Lakers garner the top pick:

“If the Lakers got the No. 1 pick,” said Pierce, entertaining Billups’ what-if scenario, “I would trade LeBron James.”

“You talk about three years left of LeBron or 15 years left of Zion … Let’s go.”

Pierce’s take produced laughter for the rest of the panel, and even a facepalm by Jalen Rose, who has been known to have a hot take or two during his career in ESPN.

Yet this isn’t the first time something close to that has been hinted after the Lakers’ playoff chances quickly evaporated after the All-Star break.

Billups also asked this: “Why do you have to trade LeBron?”

This is a valid point, but one that has been proven this season after James played and failed to click with a young core around him. While Williamson could represent a generational talent and likely another star to put next to James, it is unlikely The King wants to play mentor to a young star at this point of his career, which is why he lobbied to get Anthony Davis earlier in the season.

The Lakers will have close to a 1 percent chance to get Williamson, likely finishing around the top teams to miss the playoffs. But if Pierce’s argument sounds valid, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to trade James to whatever team musters the No. 1 pick and draft Williamson with said pick. It would be a virtual exchange of goods that would give the Lakers those 15 years of Williamson rather than three more from James.