As previously reported by The Inquisitr, analyst Jeff Van Gundy suggested — during the Los Angeles Lakers’ game last week against the Boston Celtics — that the Lakers might be better off trading LeBron James during the offseason, in order to start anew and have more salary cap space to spend this summer.
While the Lakers have yet to publicly show any signs that they are planning to take the former NBA head coach’s advice and part ways with the four-time MVP, a new report suggests that the organization had, at the very least, given the idea some thought during the height of the Anthony Davis trade rumors that allegedly affected Los Angeles’ team chemistry and morale.
In an article published Thursday, Bleacher Report‘s Ric Bucher cited a Lakers source who claimed that the topic of trading James was “contemplated” by the team well before Van Gundy made the aforementioned comments. This, he added, took place around the time the Lakers were rumored to be sending several players to the New Orleans Pelicans in an attempt to acquire Davis before the February trade deadline.
As further related by Bucher, Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul — who represents both James and Davis — was accused by many within the Lakers’ organization of spreading the rumors that the team was interested in the All-NBA big man. While he would deny being the source of these rumors, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was said to be “furious” with Paul for allegedly leaking them. This reportedly led her to consider something that would have arguably been inconceivable at the time LeBron signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers in the summer of 2018.
“The idea of terminating the franchise’s relationship with Paul by moving James at least crossed Buss’ mind, the team source said, and Paul was made aware of that,” Bucher wrote. “That prompted Paul to reach out to Buss to clear the air, and whatever ill will existed supposedly dissipated.”
Although the NBA’s trade deadline has long passed, with the next round of trades set to officially take place in the summer of 2019, Bleacher Report‘s Bucher also spoke to some unnamed NBA executives — asking them what they think LeBron James would be worth in the event the Lakers traded him. One general manager from a Western Conference reportedly team told Bucher that he wouldn’t sacrifice his team’s best player in exchange for LeBron, as the 34-year-old superstar is “not good enough anymore” to reach the Finals playing alongside “four cadavers.”
Similarly, a Western Conference assistant GM allegedly said that James would probably be worth “a first-round pick and a good young player” from a bad team, before adding that LeBron would have likely been worth much more than that “a year ago.”
Other team executives expressed reluctance when presented with the idea of trading for James. One Eastern Conference owner purportedly said that he wouldn’t want to make a deal for someone who “isn’t committed” and is in the twilight of his career, while an owner from a Western Conference team is claimed to have said that he isn’t against such a trade, provided that he doesn’t have to give up more than one protected first-round draft selection.