The Los Angeles Lakers could face a decision about LeBron James’ future with buzz around the NBA that the superstar may not play out the remaining two years of his contract in L.A.. Since James signed an extension this past offseason, the Lakers star in not eligible to be traded until the summer of 2023. According to Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney, league executives are preparing just in case things turn south in Los Angeles, and James eventually requests a trade.
“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.”
Warriors Are a Top Landing Spot If LeBron Pushes for Trade
According to Deveney, the Lakers would not simply deal James to the team with the best package but would allow the star to “pick his trade destination.” James has made no secret about his desire to play with Steph Curry and the Warriors have plenty of young assets that could be appealing to the Lakers. One potential trade package has Golden State sending Jordan Poole, former No. 2 pick James Wiseman and fellow lottery selection Jonathan Kuminga to Los Angeles in exchange for James.
“If there is a bidding war going on at some point, the Warriors are in a great position because they can give you the young guys—(James) Wiseman or (Jonathan) Kuminga or (Moses) Moody, or (Pat) Baldwin, whoever the Lakers want,” a Western Conference executive explained to Deveney. “But you have to add either (Jordan) Poole or (Andrew) Wiggins, and that’s not easy. But if they want to win now, you can give up Poole if you are getting back LeBron, right? If they keep Draymond (Green) and come back with Steph (Curry), Klay Thompson, Draymond and LeBron, that would be a fun, fun team to watch.”
Would Lakers Have an Interest in Poole, Wiseman & Kuminga?
For the Lakers to trade James, it would likely need to be a mutual agreement to part ways before Los Angeles would be willing to move the superstar. The decision would signal a rebuild for the Lakers, but would the Warriors proposed package headlined by Poole be enough to entice general manager Rob Pelinka to move on from an NBA legend?
Poole is averaging 20.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 31% from long range during his first 41 appearances this season. The guard is just 23 years old and has plenty of upside as evidenced by the Warriors’ willingness to sign Poole to a four-year, $128 million contract extension.
The Lakers would also get two former lottery picks in Kuminga and Wiseman. Los Angeles moving on from James may be a long shot, but rival executives are at least preparing for the possibility.
“According to executives around the league, multiple teams are at least preparing for the possibility that James will seek to force a trade this summer as he, having just turned 38, looks to finish his career in a winning environment,” Deveney wrote on January 9. “And unlike this past offseason, in which teams were blindsided by the trade demand lodged by star forward Kevin Durant on the eve of free agency, front offices around the NBA will be prepared for James’ potential move.”