It has seemed ever since LeBron James signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers last summer that Los Angeles’ long-term vision entails pairing arguably the best basketball player on the planet with one or two other superstars in an effort to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.
With Los Angeles sitting below .500 and James battling a hamstring injury, that grand plan now looks a bit more unstable — to the point where the Lakers might have considered something very drastic.
Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported Thursday, citing a team source, that the Lakers contemplated the subject of trading James leading up to the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline.
James’ agent, Rich Paul, was accused of spreading rumors that Los Angeles would trade anyone other than James to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss became so furious with the situation that the idea of terminating the organization’s relationship with Paul by trading James at least crossed her mind, the team source told Bucher.
Paul, who also represents Davis, reportedly was made aware of Buss’ suspicion and frustration. And although he denied to Bucher that he leaked the Lakers’ interest in Davis, he reached out to Buss to clear the air, seemingly eliminating any ill will between the sides.
It’s amazing to think the Lakers actually might have considered trading James, though. He’s long been the face of the league, reaching eight straight NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Lakers fully embrace their reputation as a glamorous destination. Not to mention James has performed at a high level when healthy this season despite turning 34 in December and logging an incredible amount of on-court mileage throughout his 15-year career.
Maybe Jeff Van Gundy, a former NBA head coach-turned-ESPN broadcaster who recently suggested the Lakers explore trading James, isn’t crazy after all.
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Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images