LeBron James Pushing Lakers to Make Blockbuster Trade: Report

lebron james

Getty LeBron James and the Lakers face critical decisions this offseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers are doing their best to convince the NBA that the team is not trading Russell Westbrook. But not everyone is buying it because they know the “Lakers’ top stars” (i.e., LeBron James and Anthony Davis) would prefer the front office to trade Westbrook, per NBA insider Marc Stein.

“They’re never gonna say it, but I think the commonly held suspicion around the league is that the Lakers’ top stars would prefer if there was a Westbrook trade and they were able to move him and they can really try something else,” Stein said on the June 2 episode of “The Rich Eisen Show.” “But the reality is Westbrook, when he opts into his player option for next season, he’s going to be making $47 million.

“And even though that’s an expiring contract, that’s just a mammoth number and you can’t trade him without taking back long-term salary. You’re not gonna get back $40-plus million of [expiring contracts] for Russell Westbrook. So, there are legit reasons for the Lakers to be hesitant to just trade him any way they can, because they don’t want to have to put first-round picks into the deal to move him, and they don’t want to take back bad contracts that hurt their long-term flexibility further.

“But my question is going to be: Is the best play for them to really just run it back and see if Darvin Ham can reach Russell Westbrook in a way that Frank Vogel couldn’t? Or is it better to just waive him and take the huge financial hit in the name of starting over fresh?”

ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Lakers!

Ham on Westbrook: ‘The Biggest Word We Used Was Sacrifice’

During his first public comments since joining the Lakers as head coach on June 3, Darvin Ham expressed confidence in Westbrook, emphasizing the term “sacrifice” on multiple occasions when discussing Westbrook’s role with the team. Westbrook was one of several Lakers players who attended Ham’s introductory press conference on June 6.

“I want Russell — we talked in our conversations — and the biggest word we used was sacrifice,” Ham noted during a June 6 interview on ESPN’s “NBA Today.” “I want him to go back to being a pit bull on the defensive end, and everything else is going to flow from there.

“We’re going to implement some different running habits that I think is going to benefit him and some different areas on the floor he will be able to attack from. I want him to set a tone defensively for our team. Just get back to guarding, guarding, guarding.”

Teams Are Demanding at Least a 1st-Round Pick in a Westbrook Trade: Report

Darvin Ham: I want Russell Westbrook to be a PIT BULL on defense | NBA TodayDarvin Ham calls for the entire Los Angeles Lakers roster to come together and his role for the Russell Westbrook. #ESPN #NBAonESPN #NBAToday ☑️ Subscribe to ESPN+: plus.espn.com/ 📱Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn 🏀 Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/2yxs3Og ☑️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ☑️Watch ESPN on YouTube TV: es.pn/YouTubeTV2022-06-06T19:58:34Z

The Athletic’s Jovan Buha reported on May 24 that opposing teams are requesting at least one first-round pick be included in any potential Westbrook trade, something the Lakers have been unwilling to do thus far.

“Teams have been demanding the inclusion of at least one first-round pick to take on Westbrook’s massive expiring contract, according to league sources,” Buha wrote. “Rival teams know how much of a public trainwreck last season was for the Lakers, and they’re not looking to do Los Angeles any favors by helping them off of Westbrook’s contract.

“But the Lakers don’t subscribe to that theory. As of now, they have no intention of using a first-round pick to facilitate a Westbrook trade, according to league sources.”

Without an Extension, LeBron Becomes a Free Agent in 2023

If LeBron James was a FREE AGENT, what would the NBA look like? 👀 | The Hoop CollectiveThe Hoop Collective trio discuss what the landscape of the NBA would look like if LeBron James was a free agent in the NBA. #ESPN #NBAonESPN #Lakers #TheHoopCollective ✔️Subscribe to ESPN+ espnplus.com/youtube ✔️ Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn ✔️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ✔️ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoNBAonESPN ✔️ Watch…2022-02-11T22:30:04Z

If the Lakers do pull the trigger on trading Westbrook, the franchise is likely hoping for addition by subtraction. Los Angeles is unlikely to land an impact player in a deal for Westbrook, but Stein pointed to a potential trade appeasing the Lakers’ star duo. Given James’ uncertain future, the Lakers should do everything in their power to keep the superstar happy.

Time will tell just how much pressure James and Davis will put on the Lakers to deal Westbrook, or whether they will have a change of heart with Ham as the new head coach. All eyes are already on James to see if he signs a contract extension with the Lakers this offseason. If the Lakers star declines, James will become a free agent in 2023, leading to an upcoming season full of speculation about his future.

Comment Here
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard Greene
Richard Greene
2 months ago

It’s a very good thing you don’t own a team J.I.M if you did you’d be out of business in three days! If it were not for Lebron they would not even be relevant, where ever he goes championships follow within two years the Lake show had a championship still playing at an MVP level and you trade him??????…… while you totally ignored the mono browed glass man Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrick! I’m sooooo glad you don’t own the Lake show with you at the helm they’d never win anything.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson
2 months ago

i say trade lebron and get someone who plays defense. the lakers are not that bad but cant stop the other teams from scoring when lebron is staying on the other end of the court.

Daniel Thompson
Daniel Thompson
2 months ago

Who can they get that’s better than Russ if they waive him?!?!? Running it back is the only way I see. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x