Lakers’ LeBron James Predicted to Request Trade Back to East

Lakers star LeBron James

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Arena.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron Jamesemotional response to ESPN’s omission of Bronny from their latest 2024 NBA Mock Draft suggests how invested he is in his son’s future.

Bleacher Report’s salary cap guru Eric Pincus reported on February 27 that there are people around the league who believe James will steer Bronny to a team where they would be playing together.

“Would a team draft Bronny to lure his father? Perhaps, but how many times in James’ career has he been reactionary?

To the best of his ability, James will probably direct where his son lands. Perhaps that’s with the Lakers, though some around the league speculate it’ll be with the New York Knicks. If so, James would probably opt-in and orchestrate a trade from the Lakers (perhaps with Julius Randle, other salaries and picks to Los Angeles),” Pincus wrote.

The Lakers would certainly require a huge chunk of the Knicks’ eight tradable picks in a potential James trade.

They will also get a familiar face in Randle, their lottery pick in 2014, and a one-time frontcourt mate of Anthony Davis in New Orleans.

Randle is 10 years younger than James and will perfectly fit with Davis’ timeline. The picks they could acquire from the Knicks coupled with their 3 tradable first-round picks in the offseason would catapult the Lakers as a frontrunner to land any young star who might become available to form a new and much younger Big 3.

LeBron ‘Used’ Knicks as Leverage

James fanned speculations about a potential move to the Knicks in the future in the days leading up to the February 8 trade deadline from cryptic X posts to flexing the Knicks towel in a postgame interview after a Lakers win in New York.

He even told New York reporters that playing for the Knicks crossed his mind.

“During my free agency period in 2010, it was one of the teams that I looked at,” James told reporters on February 3. “So I’ve had that thought in my career.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst then claimed James just strategically used the Knicks to put pressure on the Lakers’ front office to make trade deadline moves that never came.

Knicks Unreceptive of LeBron’s Mixed Signals

According to a report from The Athletic on February 14, the Knicks management did not respond to James’ overtures nor hatch a plan for a potential move.

Despite all the focus on James’ recent trip to New York, where he sent all sorts of pro-Knicks signals that sparked speculation about that Broadway-worthy possibility, a league source indicated the Knicks’ brass has not discussed the prospect of adding James. Not only does the team lack the requisite salary cap space necessary to make room for James this summer, but the idea of the Knicks making moves to free up that sort of money would be seen internally as a serious setback to their long-term plan. While that could always change, it’s telling that the Knicks didn’t respond to James’ myriad messages by heading straight for the proverbial war room to figure out a plan to bring him to the Big Apple.

NBA Insider Believes LeBron Will Re-Sign With Lakers

Windhorst, who has been covering him since his high school days in Akron, Ohio believes James will stay in Los Angeles.

“LeBron can opt out of his contract this summer which I think he will do for two reasons: one, he can get a multi-year contract that averages 50-plus million a year regardless of how long
he wants to play,” Windhorst said on “Get Up” on ESPN on February 27. “I think he’s going to want to do that. And this is important, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause right now which is why all of a sudden there was this chatter about him at the trade deadline.

If he opts out of his contract and signs a new one, even if it’s just for two years, he can install a no-trade clause to get that out of the way. So, I expect regardless of Bronny [NBA draft decision], regardless of the Lakers’ finish, it’s probable he’ll opt out of that contract even if it’s just to re-sign with the Lakers.”