The Los Angeles Lakers are already experiencing an interesting offseason with plenty of chatter about LeBron James’ future. The superstar’s $97 million deal puts James under contract with the Lakers for an additional two seasons.
Yet, free-agent guard Kyrie Irving is attempting to recruit James to join the Mavericks in order to form a new big three alongside Luka Doncic, per Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. The only circumstance where the Lakers explore trading James is if the NBA legend attempts to force his way out of Los Angeles.
This remains an unlikely scenario, but if James pulls a shocker and wants to join the Mavericks a plausible blockbuster deal would likely require a third team to get involved. Dallas has little appealing assets to offer Los Angeles outside of their two superstars. The Bulls make some sense as Chicago could potentially be open to moving off of LaVine’s five-year, $215 million contract.
One wild three-team trade idea would be the Lakers landing LaVine from the Bulls while sending James to the Mavericks. Los Angeles also gets the Mavericks’ prized young duo of Josh Green and Jaden Hardy. Dallas sends the No. 10 pick in the upcoming draft as well as Davis Bertans to LA.
The Lakers move James and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Mavericks as part of the three-team deal. Chicago rids themselves of LaVine’s four remaining years of his contract while landing Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, promising Lakers guard Max Christie and a future first-round selection from Dallas.
Lakers Rumors: The Mavericks Would Need LeBron James to Force a Trade to Dallas
With James’ oldest son Bronny James beginning his collegiate career at USC in the fall, chances are slim that James would push for a trade. Yet, if James opts to prioritize winning a fifth championship above everything else teaming up with Irving and Doncic would be hard to top.
The challenge is the Lakers are going to have little desire for anyone on the Mavs’ roster outside of Irving and Doncic as true compensation for James. The above three-team trade proposal is not exactly equal from the Lakers’ perspective and is only feasible if James demands a trade. NBA insider Marc Stein reported that James would be “actively forcing his way to Dallas” in order for a deal to happen but added that the Mavericks could have some appeal to the four-time champion.
“What can be bankably confirmed about any LeBron connection to the Mavericks: Dallas is certainly a team, league sources say, that would intrigue the 38-year-old as a potential landing spot if James ever reached the point of searching for a new place to play,” Stein wrote on June 5.
“If … James is a well-known admirer of Dončić — and vice versa — and maintains close relationships with Mavericks coach Jason Kidd and assistant coach Jared Dudley after their championship run together in the Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando to cap the 2019-20 season.”
What Is LeBron James’ Trade Value for the Lakers?
The challenge for the Lakers is there is no blueprint for trading a top-two player of all-time at the age of 38. The most recent blockbuster NBA trade allowed the Nets to land four future first-round draft picks and a package of promising young players for Kevin Durant.
This is not a fair comparison given Durant is nearly four years younger than James, and new Suns owner Mat Ishbia pressed the front office to give up a king’s ransom to bring KD to Phoenix. LaVine is nowhere near James’ level but gives the Lakers a legitimate star in return at 28 years old with plenty of runway remaining on his career.
The two-time All-Star averaged 24.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 37.5% from behind the arc during 77 starts in 2022-23. LaVine paired with Anthony Davis gives the Lakers two superstars to build around for years to come.
All signs point to the Lakers building around James and Davis this offseason as the franchise attempts to make the NBA finals next season. This is not going to stop Irving and Doncic from attempting to shock the sports world by prying James away from Hollywood.