Ever since LeBron James signed as a free agent last summer with the Los Angeles Lakers, the assumption around the NBA has been that the Lakers would eventually add a second star, or possibly a third, to work with James. The Lakers spent much of the season attempting to swing a trade for New Orleans center Anthony Davis, to no avail.
But now, with the Lakers having missed the playoffs — and the shocking announcement this week that the team’s president, Magic Johnson, is stepping down — the possibility has been raised that the Lakers might consider trading James, and starting over.
Colin Cowherd, per Twitter, suggested earlier this week that the Lakers could opt to rebuild by getting rid of the superstar player. Now, an NBA reporter is suggesting a possible destination for King James.
Brandon Williams of Amico Hoops suggested — in a post published Thursday — that the Lakers could trade James to the New York Knicks in the event that the Knicks come up with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Such a deal would put the Lakers in position to draft Duke’s Zion Williamson.
Williams is not reporting that such a move is in the works, or has even been discussed. For one thing, it’s not known yet who the Knicks will be picking, or even who will be making front office decisions for the Lakers.
The reasoning is that the James hasn’t been “embraced” by fans in Los Angeles, but likely would be in New York. Also, the Knicks’ huge amount of cap space would allow the team to acquire other stars to put with James, including the potential of setting up a reunion between the player and his former Cleveland teammate, Kyrie Irving.
— NESN (@NESN) April 9, 2019
In addition, James is said to have respect for Knicks coach David Fizdale, and he would be able to pursue entertainment industry ambitions while playing in New York. A Knicks move would also put James back in the Eastern Conference, where he played the entirety of his career before coming to the Lakers.
Acting against the scenario is that it’s unclear if the Knicks, in position to draft Williamson, would instead trade that opportunity for James, who will turn 35 during the season next year. Also, the Knicks’ roster is largely barren, and they don’t have a lot of trade capital beyond their draft pick. And the Knicks are largely expected to pursue free agent Kevin Durant, who plays a similar position to James.
Aside from his departure from Cleveland to Miami in 2010 — which was essentially a free agent signing, but was structured as a trade for salary cap purposes — James has never been traded in his career.