LeBron James tried to sidestep any “trouble” by talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers but the Los Angeles Lakers star just couldn’t help himself.
After the Cavs downed the Lakers 114-110, James was asked about his former team but “The King” was careful with his words. He referenced an interview he did last year with The Athletic that ramped up rumors that he could be eyeing a return to the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2003.
“I got in trouble last time for just giving an honest opinion,” James said with a smile on Sunday. “I got in trouble for that.”
James ultimately said he didn’t care about the blowback and went on to gush over the Cavaliers and their offseason acquisition of Donovan Mitchell, who lit up the Lakers for 33 points on Sunday.
“Listen, they did a great job in the offseason of picking up a big-time player. Obviously, between them and [the] New York [Knicks], a lot of people were just looking to see who was going to get [the trade] done,” James said. “I think we saw last year what team they could become. And obviously, with Evan [Mobley]’s injury and Darius [Garland]’s injury, they ended up slipping towards the end and having to play in the Play-In and we know what happened with that.”
The Cavaliers entered Monday 8-1 and have established themselves as an early contender in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Lakers are sitting at 2-7 and were set to play Monday night’s game against the Jazz without the services of the 37-year-old James, who got the night off.
James Said Previously ‘Door Not Closed’ on Return to Cavs
James spent two different stints with his hometown team. After being drafted by the Cavaliers, he established himself as a superstar and led the Cavs deep into the postseason multiple times. After some time and titles with the Heat, James returned and led the way as Cleveland won the title in 2016.
“The door’s not closed on that,” James told The Athletic in February during All-Star Weekend. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”
James signed a two-year extension with the Lakers this offseason but can become a free agent in 2024 thanks to a player-option. James has expressed a desire to play with his son, Bronny, who will be NBA draft-eligible in 2024.
Lakers Looking to Rev Up Anthony Davis
The Lakers have been struggling but James is still putting up massive numbers. He’s averaged 24.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists, although he’s hitting just 21% of his 3-pointers — by far the worst mark of his career.
The Lakers focus going forward is trying to rev up Anthony Davis, who also has some solid stats but has been ineffective for a full four quarters. In the second-half of games the All-Star big man has averaged just eight points and 6.3 shot attempts, with his usage rate dropping more than 10%. He’s scored just two points in the second half of the Lakers’ last two games.
“Obviously, it starts with AD and getting him more touches,” James said. “Our focal point is and always should be to make sure he touches the ball throughout the course of possessions, quarters, halves.”
Davis will be in more of a showcase spot against the Jazz on Monday, with James (left foot soreness), Patrick Beverley (non-covid illness), and Lonnie Walker (non-COVID illness) all missing.