Proposed Blockbuster Trade Sends Lakers $100 Million All-Star & Ex-NBA Champ

LeBron James

Getty LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers face a difficult decision if LeBron James does not sign a contract extension prior to the upcoming season. If James plays out the final year of his deal, the superstar would become a free agent in 2023, meaning the Lakers could lose the legend without getting anything in return.

Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey believes the Lakers should look to trade James instead of allowing the star to potentially test free agency next summer. Bailey suggests a potential deal to orchestrate a Cavaliers reunion with James. The proposed trade has the Lakers sending the All-Star to the Cavs in exchange for Jarrett Allen, Kevin Love, and three future first-round picks (2024, 2026 and 2028).

“And if the Lakers can’t beef up their roster or come to an agreement on an extension with LeBron this summer (Rich Paul told ESPN the two sides had ‘productive’ talks on the matter Thursday), they might have to seriously consider moving him,” Bailey explained on August 5, 2022. “As ridiculous as that seems, it beats the possible alternative of losing him for nothing in free agency.

“So, why not engage the Cavs on the idea? Start by asking for salary filler, Evan Mobley and four or five picks. When Cleveland says, ‘Nah, we’ll just wait for 2023,’ the Lakers can back off a bit. And if they end up with a 24-year-old All-Star and three or four picks, they can at least sell the fans on this being preferable to losing him outright.”

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Allen Is Coming Off His First All-Star Appearance

Love is the recognizable Cavs player in this deal, but Allen would be a more important player for the Lakers to land. Allen is coming off the first All-Star campaign of his career averaging 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game during his 56 starts in 2021-22. The proposed trade admittedly presents the Lakers with a clunky fit next to Anthony Davis, but it would allow the big man to focus solely on minutes at his preferred position of power forward.

Allen has four seasons remaining on his sizable five-year, $100 million contract. Love may be a tougher sell for the Lakers given his $28.9 million salary this upcoming season, but the good news is it is the final season of his $120 million contract.

The five-time All-Star has been able to transform his career into becoming a valuable role player. Love averaged 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shooting 39.2% from behind the three-point line while starting just four games for Cleveland. Yet, it is still hard to justify Love’s nearly $29 million salary given his shift in responsibilities.

NBA GM Labels the Cavs as a Threat to Sign LeBron

During a conversation with’s NBA insider Sean Deveney, one Eastern Conference general manager noted the Lakers are likely to retain James but still views the Cavaliers as a threat to snag the superstar. The NBA exec indicated this is more likely to happen in 2024 when Bronny James becomes draft eligible.

“The two things that would worry me if I was the Lakers are the Cavaliers and Bronny,” the general manager explained to Heavy. “He wants to play with Bronny and he has said he will go and do that when the chance comes. He never said he would do it in Bronny’s rookie season but if he decides he wants to do that in 2024, then LeBron’s only signing for one more year and he’ll take a minimum somewhere to play with his son. But there’s variables there too, like is Bronny definitely going to be one-and-done?

“And there’s the Cleveland thing. The Cavs could get themselves into position to get Bronny, and sign LeBron all at once in 2024. That’s a home-run move for that team. They’re going to keep that in the back of their heads no matter what they do in the next couple of years. So the Lakers window here, it’s really small.”

Given some of the recent blockbuster deals we have seen around the league, this trade does not look like a haul for the Lakers, especially given they are moving one of the top-two NBA players ever. Yet, the Lakers will have little leverage if James does not sign a new deal. Interested teams could choose to wait and attempt to sign James outright when 2023 free agency begins. All this makes for a sticky situation for Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka to balance as no executive wants to be the person to trade King James.