The Los Angeles Lakers cannot trade LeBron James until this upcoming offseason, but that is not stopping speculation that the superstar’s days in Hollywood could be numbered. The Athletic’s David Aldridge is the latest to speculate about potential blockbuster trade packages for James while also describing a potential divorce as “the longest of long shots.”
“Could James’ rings fixation lead to an amicable divorce from Los Angeles, where he moved his family almost five years ago?” Aldridge wrote on January 16. “Would James leave the fulcrum of his post-playing career: the entertainment and business empire he’s creating in L.A.?
“…But even if James and the Lakers ever mutually decide it is time to move on – which, we say again, we know is the longest of long shots – is there even a deal out there this offseason that would make any sense?”
One of the more intriguing trade proposals Aldridge created has James heading to the ATL to team up with Trae Young. The Lakers send James and Patrick Beverley (via a sign-and-trade) in exchange for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, big man John Collins, sharpshooter Bogan Bogdanovic, guard Justin Holiday (sign-and-trade) and a 2024 first-round pick (the lower of the Hawks/Kings selection).
The Hawks Gave Up 3 First-Round Picks for Murray in a Blockbuster Deal With Spurs
Would Atlanta be willing to move on from Murray after just one season for a 38-year-old James? The Hawks traded three first-round picks and an additional pick swap to land Murray this past offseason. Overall, it may be worth the gamble to trade a core group of players that has regressed since the Hawks made their Eastern Conference Finals run in 2021.
“John Collins has been available for a while,” Aldridge noted. “In this scenario, he could be L.A. bound or ultimately re-routed elsewhere in a bigger deal to bring in more assets for the Lakers. Would L.A. want Clint Capela to assure AD wouldn’t have to play the five indefinitely? Or, maybe Bogdan Bogdanović’s career 38 percent from deep would be more valuable going forward.
“While Atlanta sent three first-round picks (2022, 2025, 2027) to the Spurs for Murray, along with a 2026 pick swap with San Antonio, the Hawks still could include either their own 2024 first-round pick or the protected 2024 first they got from Sacramento in the Kevin Huerter trade last summer without violating the Stepien Rule. Let’s say it’s Bogie over Capela.”
Collins & Bogdanovic May Benefit From a Fresh Start in L.A.
A new Lakers trio of Murray, Collins and Anthony Davis offers plenty of intrigue despite lacking the obvious star power King James brings to L.A. No player has been mentioned in trade talks more in recent years than Collins. The former 2018 All-Rookie member’s $125 million contract has made it challenging for Atlanta to move the big man. Collins has averaged 16.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 35.8% from long range over his six NBA seasons.
Murray is the obvious jewel of the deal offering the Lakers a legit two-way player. The guard is coming off his first All-Star campaign with the Spurs averaging 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and two steals while shooting 32.7% from behind the arc during 68 starts in 2021-22. The Lakers would get Murray on a team-friendly four-year, $64 million contract that runs through the 2023-24 season.
After playing a critical role during the Hawks deep postseason run in 2021, Bogdanovic has been a bit of a disappointment for Atlanta. The veteran shot a scorching 43.8% from the three-point line during 2020-21 but is shooting 36.6% over the last two seasons. Bogdanovic has not looked the same since undergoing offseason knee surgery playing in just 21 games so far this season. The guard is still putting up solid numbers at 15.4 points per game, 2.9 assists and .9 steals this season.
NBA Execs Are Preparing for a Scenario Where LeBron Is Traded
The trade chatter around James is fun to discuss, but it still remains unlikely that the Lakers move on from one of the all-time greats. Even if the door is cracked slightly, NBA teams are preparing for the possibility that the Lakers will at least explore a potential deal, per Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney.
“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 Deveney. “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.”