The first year with the Los Angeles Lakers was a mess for LeBron James, but he reportedly expected it.
After the season started with hopes that LeBron could spark a rapid turnaround for the franchise dwelling near the bottom of the Western Conference for several years since the Kobe Bryant years came to an end, but that fizzled quickly as the Lakers were hit with injuries and inconsistent performances from the supporting staff. The situation led to rumors that LeBron James could already be looking for an exit from the Lakers, but Sam Amick and Bill Oram of The Athletic said that LeBron was expecting the growing pains.
“Strange as it might sound, sources close to LeBron insist he always knew that Year No. 1 might have to be messy for the Lakers to truly recalibrate for the rest of his Los Angeles run,” their report noted.
It wasn’t for lack of trying that the Lakers missed the playoffs again this season. The team was active near the NBA trade deadline in trying to land talented big man Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, but the talks fell apart as the Lakers were reportedly unwilling to put together the package the Pelicans wanted.
The report from The Athletic noted that LeBron goes into his second year hoping that the Lakers front office will get it right in the second year.
The fact that LeBron is not stressing over the situation could be welcome to the Los Angeles Lakers, as previous rumors had indicated that there had been some worry within the team that he might not be happy and even reports that the Lakers were considering trading James. As NBC Sports reported, the team was reportedly unhappy with the role LeBron’s agent played in the trade talks for Anthony Davis.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 25, 2019
Citing Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, the report noted that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss wanted to end the team’s relationship with agent Rich Paul, and were willing to part with James in order to do so. The same idea was floated by ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy, who said the Lakers may need to move on from James in order to have a chance at rebuilding.
With LeBron James still solidly on board, the Lakers are expected to still be one of the most active teams in free agency, with a number of established stars hitting the market and Davis still reportedly in the team’s sights for the long-term.