The Los Angeles Lakers only have a few days left to make their trade plans final, as the February 9 deadline is inching closer and closer. After the Lakers failed to trade for Kyrie Irving, LeBron James sat down with ESPN’s Michael Wilbon.
During the interview, he said that he still believes the Lakers have a chance at winning the 2023 NBA Championship.
“Since we won the championship in 2020, health has been on the wrong side of our franchise,” he told Wilbon. “… We know there’s gonna be nicks and bruises. Games off here, games off there. We understand that. But for the majority, if we can be healthy going down the later stretch of the season, we give ourselves a good chance.”
As things stand, the Lakers have a record of 25-29, which places them in 13th place in the Western Conference standings. However, with how close things are out West, they are only 1.5 games back of the 10th seed and 3.5 games back of the fifth seed.
When Irving requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, there was heavy speculation that the Lakers could land him. However, the Nets ended up trading him for the Dallas Mavericks, leaving James and many Lakers fans very disappointed.
Now, they will have to find other ways of improving the roster ahead of the trade deadline, likely utilizing Russell Westbrook’s contract and their two future first-round picks.
Despite that, James is still confident in the Lakers’ ability to make a playoff run and push for a title. They missed the Play-In Tournament entirely last year, and the season before that, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. But now, if they can stay healthy, James believes they can make a run.
LeBron James Upset Over Lack oof Kyrie Irving Trade
James and Irving spent three years together on the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning a title together in 2016. So when Irving asked for a trade, most immediately connected him to the Lakers. But when the Nets dealt him to Dallas, James was obviously upset.
He told Wilbon that he was disappointed they were unable to land a player as talented as Irving.
“I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed on not being able to land such a talent, but [also] someone that I had great chemistry with, and know I got great chemistry with on the floor, that can help you win championships, in my mind, in my eyes,” said James.
Nets Owner Denied Kyrie Irving-Lakers Trade
Irving reportedly wanted to go to LA, but Nets owner Joe Tsai refused to trade him there. He knew it was Irving’s favored destination, and he wanted to avoid sending Irving to the Lakers because of that, according to long-time NBA insider Marc Stein in his newsletter, The Stein Line.
“The Nets, rather than trading with Phoenix or the Lakers, ultimately came away with the two Mavericks they wanted most and a better win-now duo than L.A. could offer: [Spencer] Dinwiddie and [Dorian] Finney-Smith,” Stein wrote. “The Nets also succeeded, as one source close to the process put it, in meeting one of the presumed objectives held by team owner Joe Tsai by sending Irving somewhere other than the Lakers — his preferred destination.”