Rumor: Lakers contemplated trading LeBron James earlier this season
The thought of making LeBron James available in trade talks isn’t as wild as most people think, as the Los Angeles Lakers at some point considered the possibility in the midst of a tumultuous season.
According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, while the Lakers currently have no plans to do so, the thought of shipping King James out of town wasn’t as far fetched as some thought it could be, at least crossing owner Jeanie Buss’ mind at one point this season:
The subject of moving James, however, was contemplated by the Lakers, a team source said, weeks before Van Gundy aired it. When rumors engulfed the team at the February trade deadline that it was willing to trade anyone other than James to acquire All-Star forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, James’ agent, Rich Paul, was widely accused of spreading those rumors because Davis is also one of his clients. Paul denied to B/R that he leaked the Lakers’ interest in Davis, but Buss suspected otherwise and was furious. The idea of terminating the franchise’s relationship with Paul by moving James at least crossed Buss’ mind, the team source said, and Paul was made aware of that. That prompted Paul to reach out to Buss to clear the air, and whatever ill will existed supposedly dissipated. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a few weeks later, Buss blamed the media for making the rumors public.
Most had suspected Paul to have a hand in Davis’ trade request leaking at the time that it did, only two days after The Brow had informed the New Orleans Pelicans that he was unwilling to sign a contract extension with them this summer.
The news, which could have been kept behind closed doors, soon evolved into a wildfire, putting the Lakers and the rest of the NBA on the clock with less than two weeks to pull off a trade before the deadline.
As a result of the tight constraint, the Lakers were soon rumored to make everyone but James available in exchange for Davis. The organization paid for this dearly, as the young core of this team had an awful lot of rancor for being treated as disposable assets.