The Los Angeles Lakers have been predicted to make a seismic trade this year.
In a December 31 article titled “36 Bold Predictions for the Next Year in Sports,” Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated predicted that Lakers superstar LeBron James would be traded.
“Let’s face it: LeBron James’s decision to extend his contract with the Lakers was a mistake. It was a mistake for James, who doesn’t need the guaranteed cash, pushing his deal through 2023–24 limited his leverage. It was also a mistake for L.A., which didn’t have the pieces to build a title contender around James and (this season, anyway) doesn’t have the flexibility to do anything with him,” Mannix wrote. “In an ideal world, the Lakers use the cap space created by Russell Westbrook’s exit next summer to sign Kyrie Irving or Draymond Green, flip a draft pick or two and vault back into contention next season. But if that doesn’t happen, can the Lakers really go into 2023 with James, Anthony Davis and whatever group of castoffs they can assemble around them? Would James want to? Dealing James would take some chutzpah, but if L.A. whiffs on big-ticket items next offseason, is there really a better choice?”
James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers in August. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP was ineligible for a no-trade clause since he agreed to an extension. James’ extension includes a player option for the 2024-25 season. The King is ineligible to be traded this season because the second year of his extension exceeds a 5% raise.
Family & Location Main Reasons LeBron James Not Demanding Trade from Lakers
Marc Stein of Substack reported on December 30 that James doesn’t want to leave the Lakers due to family reasons and location. Both of James’ sons play basketball at Sierra Canyon School.
“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.”
James signed with the Lakers as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. The purple and gold missed the playoffs in 2018-19, won the championship in 2020, lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2021 and missed the postseason in 2022. James is two rings and two Finals MVPs away from tying his idol, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan. However, many pundits don’t believe the Akron Hammer can win another championship with the Lakers.
LeBron James Wants to Win
After the Lakers lost to the Miami Heat on December 28, James was asked by reporters how much longer he wanted to play in the NBA. The future Hall of Famer said he didn’t have a number, but he did say winning was the most important thing to him.
“I’m a winner, and I want to win,” James said. “And I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still compete for championships. That has always been my passion. That has always been my goal since I entered the league as an 18-year-old kid out of Akron, Ohio. And I know it takes steps to get there, but once you get there and know how to get there, playing basketball at this level just to be playing basketball is not in my DNA. It’s not in my DNA anymore. So we’ll see what happens and see how fresh my mind stays over the next couple years.”
James is averaging 28.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists this season. He’s still one of the best players in the world despite being 38.