It’s been a strange few months of turmoil for the Los Angeles Lakers. The team failed to swing a trade in February for Anthony Davis, angering a roster full of young players who had been mentioned in trade rumors. The team missed the playoffs, a first for a LeBron James team since the superstar’s second year in the league. Magic Johnson, the Lakers legend, abruptly resigned his position as the team’s front office boss on the last day of the season, and then the team parted ways with coach Luke Walton.
This week, the Lakers’ reported top choice to become their next coach, Monty Williams, opted to take over the Phoenix Suns instead, and on Wednesday Tyronn Lue, who had been expected to replace Walton, walked away from the team in a contract impasse, per ESPN. Lue objected to both the length of contract and demands by the team that he hire certain assistant coaches.
Now, there are reports of another possible bombshell. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on TV Wednesday night that Jeannie Buss, the owner of the Lakers, is being urged to trade LeBron James. Smith said that “folks close to Jeannie Buss” are “imploring her to trade” the veteran superstar.
It’s unclear who, exactly, is doing the urging, nor is it known who Smith’s sources are, or whether Buss is actually interested in getting rid of James, which would presumably kick off a new cycle of rebuilding in Los Angeles.
James has been a Laker for less than a year, having signed as a free agent with the team last July. Smith said on the air that James does not have a no-trade clause with the Lakers, and that James had been in favor of hiring Lue, who coached him in Cleveland and was on the sidelines for the Cavs’ championship three years ago.
The NBA rumor mill has not yet begun to speculate on where, exactly, James might end up if the Lakers do trade him.
When James signed with the Lakers, it was widely assumed that the team would eventually pair him with a second superstar, either through free agency or a trade from the team’s depth of young talent. But no second star ever arrived on the team, as no other free agent chose the Lakers last summer, and the team wasn’t able to swing a trade for Davis or any other high-profile player.
The team ended up with a losing record of 37-45, and enter the summer with much uncertainty, including over who will coach the team and hold power in the front office.