LeBron James continues to take passive aggressive jabs at the Los Angeles Lakers with the superstar praising multiple opposing NBA general managers during All-Star Weekend. James used a question about rookie Thunder guard Josh Giddey as an opportunity to gush about Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti.
“The MVP over there is Sam Presti, he the MVP,” James told reporters on February 19. “I mean, Josh Giddey is great, but Sam Presti, I don’t understand this guy’s eye for talent. He drafted K.D. [Durant], Russ [Westbrook], Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Josh Giddey and the list goes on and on and on. This guy’s pretty damn good.”
James’ comments come days after the Lakers star praised Rams general manager Les Snead’s win-now mentality by trading away draft picks for veteran players. All this is playing out weeks after Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka opted not to make any deals at the February 10 NBA trade deadline.
“A couple days after LeBron credited Rams GM Les Snead’s ‘F*** Them Picks’ method of building a champion, LeBron used a question about Josh Giddey to speak about how impressed he is by Thunder GM Sam Presti’s work in OKC,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweeted on February 19. “The backdrop: Rob Pelinka made no moves at the deadline.”
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LeBron Appears to be Frustrated by the Lack of Lakers Trades
James’ apparent critique of the Lakers front office is happening as the superstar has just one year remaining on his contract. CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn sees James’ comments as sparking a “Cold War” between Klutch Sports and the Lakers.
“The passive aggressive Cold War between Klutch and Lakers management is off to a fun start,” Quinn noted on Twitter after James’ comments about Presti.
If you are keeping track at home, James spent the week praising multiple non-Lakers general managers then later confirmed he would consider a return to the Cavaliers. Finally, James went public with his commitment to play with his son Bronny James, even if it means wearing another NBA jersey.
LeBron Did Not Sign off on a Quiet Trade Deadline: Report
Pelinka insisted that James and Anthony Davis were aligned with the Lakers’ decision not to make a deadline deal. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported there was “no prior sign-off from James and Davis” on the lack of trades, adding that Lakers players were pushing for a deal.
“A source familiar with the situation told ESPN that there was no prior sign-off from James and Davis accepting a quiet deadline,” McMenamin wrote on February 19. “In fact, in the days leading up to the deadline, sources told ESPN there was a realization within the Lakers locker room that the roster was not working and changes would be necessary to turn the team into a contender.”
LeBron Teased Leaving the Lakers to Play With His Son Bronny
James can be frustrated by the lack of Lakers moves but all signs point to the superstar playing a large role in constructing the current roster. James publicly campaigned for the Lakers to add Davis, a fellow Klutch Sports player, who has unfortunately been unable to stay healthy.
The Lakers duo also pushed Pelinka to trade for Russell Westbrook, pivoting from a nearly finished deal with the Kings centered around Buddy Hield.
James made public what many have speculated, the superstar is willing to leave L.A. to play with his oldest son, something that cannot be a reality until 2024 at the earliest. Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen believes it is a question of when not if James will leave Los Angeles.
“The only question now is when exactly James is going to leave,” Faigen noted on February 19. “We’ll have more time for full retrospectives on the LeBron/Lakers Era when it’s over, but will the end come this summer? Will he ask for a trade? It’s hard to see the team moving him if not, given how they want to be perceived as catering to stars. But if they don’t deal him back to Cleveland this summer, will he just leave the next offseason, when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent? Would he really want to waste one of his final years as a part of this mess?
“Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about James during his time in purple and gold, it’s that he’s not exactly a patient man, and his increasingly open airing out of the organization he’s grown so quickly dissatisfied with may leave both sides more open to working together to get him where he wants to go than anyone would have expected even just one calendar year ago.”
Will the Lakers Consider Trading LeBron?
Pelinka appeared to have no realistic suitors willing to take on Westbrook’s $47 million salary for next season. Now, James is angry as he spends what could be the final years of his career on a Lakers roster that has little chance of competing for a championship.
The Lakers may not want to hit the nuclear button, but the team will be forced to ask some difficult questions this offseason about the future of their two stars. If James does not sign an extension, a once impossible scenario of trading one of the NBA greats cannot be ruled out.