Zach Lowe of ESPN reported on January 10 that LeBron James wants to finish his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Even though James is frustrated with losing, living in Los Angeles and being close to his family are important to the King. James’ first son, Bronny, will graduate high school this year, but his second son, Bryce, is only a sophomore at Sierra Canyon School. James’ wife and daughter also adore living in Los Angeles.
“I keep hearing he wants to stay with the Lakers,” Lowe said on his podcast. “He wants to finish his career with the Lakers. His comments, though, should be interpreted as his patience is not infinite, and if this is just a continued morass of losing, maybe that changes. But if you force me to bet, I’d still bet on him finishing his career with the Lakers. And I’d feel pretty confident in that.”
James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers in August. He has a player option for the 2024-25 season. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP is ineligible to be traded this season because the second year of his extension exceeds a 5% raise. However, the Akron Hammer can be traded this offseason.
Teams Are Preparing for the Possibility That LeBron James Will Request a Trade
In a January 9 piece called “NBA Execs Advised to ‘Be Prepared’ on Lakers-LeBron James Trade,” Heavy Sports senior insider Sean Deveney reported multiple teams are preparing for the possibility that James will request a trade from the Lakers this offseason if the club doesn’t go on a deep playoff run this season. Since winning the championship in 2020, Los Angeles has lost in the first round of the postseason and missed the play-in tournament.
“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.
“But since he went to L.A. (in 2018), there has been this certainty that he was going to finish up (his career) in Los Angeles, that he wanted to be an entertainment mogul and that he needed to be in Hollywood for that. He is realizing that he is only going to get one shot at how he finishes his basketball career, though, and that the movie stuff will always be there. He doesn’t want his time playing basketball to end missing the playoffs every year for the Lakers.”
James, 38, wants the Lakers to trade their picks in 2027 and 2029 to upgrade the roster this season. However, general manager Rob Pelinka doesn’t want to use his assets unless a star becomes available. That has created some tension behind the scenes in Los Angeles, league sources told Heavy Sports.
LeBron James’ Explosive Interview With The Athletic Raised Eyebrows
After the Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings on January 7, James had an explosive interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic while walking to the bus. The Lakers superstar basically insinuated that Pelinka should trade the team’s draft picks.
Amick: To see you and the team playing this well, especially with AD out, has me wondering what the conversations with (president of basketball operations) Rob (Pelinka) and (owner) Jeanie (Buss) are like these days in terms of the roster. What’s the nature of your message? What is that communication like?
James: Man listen, I play the game. I worry about who’s in the locker room. I can’t — it’s not my … it’s not my job. I can’t do nobody else’s job.
Amick: And the idea that a team would hold on to some picks and wait for next year …
James: Well if you guys know, then you guys know. You guys know. I don’t need to talk about it. You guys know.
Amick: But if you stay quiet, then time is gonna keep marching on, no?
James: Listen, you guys know. It’s not rocket science. It’s not rocket science.
Amick: But is that conversation (with ownership and management) evolving?
James: I’m working. I don’t have time. We’re playing every other day, three (out of) four nights. I don’t have time to be…
Amick: But how’s your patience level? Is that aspect (of this situation) tugging at you?
James: They’re doing what they feel is best for the franchise.
Amick: How do you feel about that?
James: I’m doing what’s best for my guys in the locker room. That’s all I can worry about. I’ll let y’all. … Y’all know what the f— should be happening. I don’t need to talk.
The NBA trade deadline is February 9.