LeBron James calls out Lakers for reluctance to trade: ‘You all know what the heck should happen’

LeBron James calls out Lakers for reluctance to trade: ‘You all know what the heck should happen’

LeBron James seems to have had enough. After his performance of 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 136-134 win over the Sacramento Kings that extended their winning streak to a season-high five games, James spoke to The Athletic about the lack of movement on the trade front and made himself clear.

“You all know what the hell should happen,” James said. “I don’t need to talk.”

What James is referring to is the Lakers trading one or both of their remaining future first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to get him help. However, the front office was reluctant to send both assets away for fear of pledging the average team’s future.

James has previously made indirect comments through the media to try to put pressure on the front office.

During a special episode of “The Shop” in November, James bemoaned the lack of talent around Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, another aging superstar. “When you have a transcendent franchise player like Aaron Rodgers…why not surround that when you have the choices to maximize what he can do?” said James.

At the end of December, after a five-game losing streak, he wondered how much longer he could play in such a situation. “I’m a winner and I want to win. I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still fight for championships,” said James. “Playing basketball at this level just to play basketball isn’t in my DNA. It’s not in my DNA anymore. We’ll see what happens and see how fresh my spirit stays over the next few years.”

With the Lakers now enjoying their most impressive stretch of the season (one with Anthony Davis sidelined), he’s taken a more direct approach. His comments late Saturday made it clear that he is not a fan of the approach being taken by the front office. The final salvo, quoted in the post above, was just part of a longer conversation that reads in part:

The Athletic: Seeing you and the team playing so well, especially without AD, makes me wonder what the conversations with (president of basketball operations) Rob (Pelinka) and (owner) Jeanie (Buss) are like these days the list. What is the nature of your message? What does this communication look like?

James: “Man, listen, I’m playing the game. I’m worried about who’s in the dressing room. I can’t – it’s not my… it’s not my job. I can’t do someone else’s job.”

The Athletic: But LeBron, you’re 38 and you’re doing things that have never been done before.

James: “I know that.”

The Athletic: And the idea that a team would hold on to some picks and wait for next year…

James: Well, if you know, then you know. you know it I don’t need to talk about it.

The Athletic: But what about your patience? Does this aspect (of this situation) tug at you?

James: “They’re doing what they think is best for the franchise.”

The Athletic: How do you feel about that?

James: “I’m doing what’s best for my boys in the dressing room. That’s all I can worry about.”

The Lakers will always be involved in trade rumors, but the subject has been more hectic and complicated than ever over the past year. Russell Westbrook’s dilemma appears to have been resolved off the bench by his improved game after accepting that role, but little else.

Still performing at an elite level as he enters the final years of a legendary career, James wants the organization to do whatever it takes to compete in the here and now. There are a few problems with this. First, James’ insistence on the Lakers trading for Westbrook at all took away most of their remaining flexibility. All that’s left of interesting assets now are the first-round picks for 2027 and 2029, which won’t be fulfilled until James is likely to have retired, and could end up being extremely valuable.

Also, the team just isn’t that great and Anthony Davis hasn’t proven that he can keep his feet on the ground. Even with that five-game winning streak, the Lakers are only 19-21 and out of a one-game pitch as we near the halfway point of the season. What player or players are available who would make a significant difference in the Lakers’ championship hopes?

To this point, the Lakers’ front office hasn’t blinked, but will they maintain that resolve in the face of mounting public pressure from James? The next month before the February 9th close will be fascinating.

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