Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday on December 30 when his team took on the Atlanta Hawks. James, though in the latter end of his thirties, showed he is still one of the best in the game, scoring a season-high 47 points and a near triple-double with 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
LeBron’s outing earned him the praise of Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant who lauded his “masterful” performance.
“Masterful 47 I just watched, LeBron James. Masterful…GGz,” Durant tweeted on December 30.
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Insider Believes LeBron Could Be Traded
Although James was able to secure the victory on his birthday, wins have been few and far in-between for him and this Lakers squad this season. Their 15-21 record reflects that. Aside from them winning the championship two years ago, LeBron’s tenure with the storied franchise has been lackluster. Since joining the franchise in 2018, they have missed the postseason twice and were eliminated in the first round in 2021.
With the timetable for Laker superstar Anthony Davis’ return from injury still in the air, it seems likely that the Lakers could miss the playoffs for the third time in the LeBron era. With the Pelicans owning their first-round draft pick this year and the future uncertain, NBA Insider Chris Mannix doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Lakers trading the four-time MVP.
“In an ideal world, the Lakers use the cap space created by Russell Westbrook’s exit next summer to sign Kyrie Irving or Draymond Green, flip a draft pick or two and vault back into contention next season,” Mannix writes.
“But if that doesn’t happen, can the Lakers really go into 2023 with James, Anthony Davis, and whatever group of castoffs they can assemble around them? Would James want to? Dealing James would take some chutzpah, but if L.A. whiffs on big-ticket items next offseason, is there really a better choice?”
Kyrie Irving & Kevin Durant Praise Jacque Vaughan
On the flipside for the Nets, everything seemed to turn for the franchise after parting ways with former head coach Steve Nash. They have reeled off 10 straight wins and catapulted themselves into third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
But the firing of Nash is just one part of the Nets’ success story. The elevation of Jacque Vaughan from interim head coach into a permanent role has also played a part, as he has completely changed the culture in Brooklyn’s locker room. His stars, Durant and Kyrie Irving had high praise for the work he has done.
“We walk into every game believing ‘All right if we stick to this template, this structure that we have, we’ll be fine regardless of what goes on in the game,’” Durant said of Vaughan. “Just knowing what we want to do every time we step on the floor keeps our mind at ease, and we’ll have that belief in whatever Jacque tells us.”
“These little details that we’re just aware of game to game, I just think that we’re doing a great job of talking and communicating when we come to the bench,” Irving added. “Jacque holding us accountable; him coming in as a head coach and really putting his own DNA on it. And us just following the game plan.”
The Nets can extend their win streak to 11 with a win over the Charlotte Hornets in their next game.