In a January 9 column called “NBA Execs Advised to ‘Be Prepared’ on Lakers-LeBron James Trade,” Heavy Sports senior insider Sean Deveney reported multiple teams around the NBA are preparing for the possibility that LeBron James will request a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers.
James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers in August. He is ineligible to be traded this season because the second year of his extension exceeds a 5% raise. However, James can be moved after this season ends, and if the Lakers don’t go on a title run, the future Hall of Famer could ask for a trade for the first time in his legendary career.
“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 Heavy Sports. “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.”
If James requests a trade from the Lakers, Los Angeles could trade the four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP for a $203 million All-Star who is also represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
The Lakers Could Trade LeBron James to the Nets for Ben Simmons
Under CBA rules, the Lakers can trade James to the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons, Day’Ron Sharpe and Cam Thomas. James has a rapport with Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“LeBron would have to be interested in playing with Kevin Durant,” a Western Conference executive told Deveney. “Both of those guys, at this point of their careers, they have been such great competitors and both of them want to finish out their time in the NBA strong, want to change the narrative a little bit on the way the last few years have gone. They have never been very close as friends but they have a lot of respect for each other. But, do you trade Kyrie? Probably, if they wanted to do a trade, they’d move Ben Simmons to L.A. but Simmons is a Klutch guy so you’d have to see how that plays out.”
Simmons is making $35.4 million this season. He will have accumulated more than $203 million in his career when his contract is over following the 2024-25 season. The lefty has career averages of 15.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists. However, he’s only putting up 7.7 points per game this season with the Nets.
“There would have to be some trepidation about adding Simmons, given the way his last two seasons have gone, but it is a high-reward gamble for the Lakers if Simmons can get back some of the confidence from his early NBA days,” Deveney wrote.
Marc Stein Believes LeBron James Will Stay With the Lakers
NBA insider Marc Stein wrote on December 30 in his Substack column that James doesn’t want to leave the Lakers due to family reasons. Both of James’ sons, Bronny and Bryce, play basketball at Sierra Canyon School. James’ wife and daughter also relish living in Los Angeles.
“Family reasons and LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION, as we’ve noted here many times, were the true driving forces that prompted LeBron James to leave Cleveland for Hollywood in the summer of 2018,” Stein wrote. “Those are believed to be the same forces that would keep him from urging the Lakers to ship him somewhere that he has an actual chance at ring No. 5. His oldest son Bronny is a high school senior. Another son, Bryce, is a high school sophomore. They’re budding prospects thriving in Southern California. James presumably doesn’t want to uproot them.”