Los Angeles Lakers small forward LeBron James recently trained with a five-time All-Star and one-time champion in New York, stirring up speculation that the purple and gold could add a new star this summer.
James and Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love trained with Chris Brickley, one of the most sought-after trainers in basketball.
James and Love are close friends. They were teammates on the Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2017-18 and played in four Finals. The two All-Stars helped Cleveland win the 2016 championship over the Golden State Warriors in seven games. The Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals, with James winning his third title and third Finals MVP.
Love signed a four-year, $120.4 million extension with the Cavaliers in the summer of 2018 after James joined the Lakers on a four-year, $153.5 million deal. Love will make $28.9 million in 2022-23, the final year of his contract.
Lakers Could Trade for Love
Since Love has one year left on his contract, the only way for the Lakers to acquire him would be via trade. According to ESPN’s trade machine, Los Angeles could trade Russell Westbrook to Cleveland for Love and Caris LeVert under CBA rules.
Love appeared in 74 games for the Cavaliers in 2021-22. The UCLA product averaged 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 43.0% from the field, 39.2% from beyond the arc and 83.8% from the free-throw line. Love would be a good fit on the Lakers since he can space the floor with his perimeter shooting. The California native made 187 3-pointers in 2021-22.
Since James has played with Love before and won a championship with him, he would probably be delighted if the Lakers found a way to acquire his former teammate. James has a regular-season record of 176-76 with Love in his career.
James on Love: ‘That’s My Brother’
On March 21, James torched the Cavaliers for 38 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. He also had a monster poster dunk on Love. It was such a vicious dunk that James told reporters during his postgame interview he wanted to take it back.
“To be completely honest, I hated that it had to be him,” James said. “He’s my guy. That’s my brother. And I hope I’m still invited to [Love’s] wedding. That’s not even in my all-time dunks so I’ll take it out. I didn’t mean it. K-Love, I love you and I take it back. I wish I could take those two points back and we still win the game by nine.”
Love playfully tackled James before the third quarter began as his way of getting back at the King for the dunk. The two champions also shared a funny exchange on Twitter after the game.
The Lakers need more shooters around James and Love fits that bill. He’s a career 39.2% shooter from beyond the arc and is familiar with Los Angeles since he was born in Santa Monica and went to college at UCLA.
James is eligible for a two-year, $97 million extension on August 4. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023 if he plays out his present contract. The future Hall of Famer put up spectacular numbers in 2021-22, averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 52.4% from the field, 35.9% from beyond the arc and 75.6% from the free-throw line.