The Los Angeles Lakers could acquire a $301 million superstar shooting guard for LeBron James.
In a January 9 article called “NBA Execs Advised to ‘Be Prepared’ on Lakers-LeBron James Trade,” Heavy Sports senior insider Sean Deveney posted quotes he received from a Western Conference executive. The exec said the Lakers can trade James to the Chicago Bulls for Zach LaVine.
“They’d be a dark horse for me in this just because they have Zach and he could be a star for the Lakers, even if they would not be that good of a team,” the exec said. “LeBron has always had a soft spot for Chicago, so it could work, and he could play with (DeMar) DeRozan, maybe Lonzo (Ball) if he is healthy. It would be an interesting mix.”
Deveney reported in his column that multiple teams around the league are preparing for the possibility that James will request a trade from the Lakers this summer. Both James and LaVine are represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group.
“It’s in the background if you think you have a chance at him. There are preparations being made just in case. You have to make them. Like the Boy Scouts used to say, ‘Be Prepared,’” one general manager told Deveney. “It will not be an easy thing to do and there are a lot of factors. There’s still a chance the Lakers make a trade this year or that something clicks and they go on a run. You can’t count that out. And they will have a chance to do something that (James) likes in free agency this summer, something that could change the outlook there.
“But since he went to L.A. (in 2018), there has been this certainty that he was going to finish up (his career) in Los Angeles, that he wanted to be an entertainment mogul and that he needed to be in Hollywood for that. He is realizing that he is only going to get one shot at how he finishes his basketball career, though, and that the movie stuff will always be there. He doesn’t want his time playing basketball to end missing the playoffs every year for the Lakers.”
The Lakers Can Trade LeBron James for Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso & Patrick Williams
Under CBA rules, the Lakers can trade James to the Bulls for LaVine, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams. James is ineligible to be traded this season because the second year of his extension exceeds a 5% raise. However, the four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP can be dealt this offseason.
“LaVine, who played collegiately for UCLA, would be the draw for the Lakers, but would the Bulls be willing to add Patrick Williams to the package? The Lakers would surely ask,” Deveney wrote. “If that does not work out, a LaVine-Alex Caruso package could work as a return for the Lakers.”
James is averaging 29.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists this season. He’s still one of the best players in the NBA despite being 38. The future Hall of Famer signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers in August. He has a player option for the 2024-25 season.
LeBron James Believed to Still Prefer to Finish His Career With the Lakers
Zach Lowe of ESPN reported on January 10 that James wants to finish his career with the Lakers. Even though the King is frustrated with losing, living in Los Angeles and being close to his family are important to James.
“I keep hearing he wants to stay with the Lakers,” Lowe said on his podcast. “He wants to finish his career with the Lakers. His comments, though, should be interpreted as his patience is not infinite, and if this is just a continued morass of losing, maybe that changes. But if you force me to bet, I’d still bet on him finishing his career with the Lakers. And I’d feel pretty confident in that.”
James signed with the Lakers as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. The purple and gold missed the playoffs in 2018-19, won the championship in 2020, lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2021 and missed the postseason in 2022.