NBA Rumor: LeBron James Trade?

76 rumors in this storyline

Phil Jackson wanting to trade LeBron James, keep Russell Westbrook in Lakers?

On Wednesday, LA Times beat reporter Bill Plaschke, who only recently sat down for an hours-long one-on-one interview with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, kind-of sort-of reported that Jackson would prefer to trade LeBron and keep Westbrook during an appearance on Doug Gottlieb’s radio show. “I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded. I’ve just heard that but I’ve got nothing to back that up. No on-the-record stuff to back that up. I do know that Phil would like to keep Westbrook and try to make that work with him.”

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Magic Johnson: 'I hope LeBron James will be a Laker for a long time'

LeBron James received a lot of heat for the Lakers’ struggles this season, but Magic Johnson tells TMZ Sports he still wants to see LBJ in a Lakers uniform for the foreseeable future. We spoke with Magic — who won 5 titles with the Lakers during his career — out in L.A. this week, and asked him if the Lake Show should trade its 37-year-old superstar after the team missed the playoffs this season. Magic told us absolutely not … saying he wants LeBron in the purple and gold “for a long time.”

Lakers not trading LeBron James if he declines extension

If LeBron James ultimately decides against signing an extension with the Lakers in August, sources say Buss wouldn’t see his desire to play out the final season of his contract as a reason to consider trading him. Without an extension, James’ current deal will expire after next season (in which he’s owed $47.1 million). It’s a natural question to ask in these sorts of situations, as the notion of James leaving the Lakers empty-handed by signing elsewhere in the summer of 2023 would be less than ideal. Still, all signs point to the year-by-year approach being considered acceptable by the Lakers — so long as the relationship with James is still in a good place.

Brian Windhorst: LeBron James would also love to play with Luka Doncic

What piqued Windhorst’s interest, however, is the prospect of LeBron teaming up with Mavs superstar Luka Doncic in the future: “I would say something else though,” Windhorst said. “As part of this answer, LeBron was having fun here to be clear. He wasn’t making a declarative statement. He talked about how much he admires Luka Doncic, and that is something that you should put in your back pocket. “Don’t ever judge LeBron a hundred percent on his words, judge him on his actions. The best way you can see how LeBron feels about people is who he drafts in his All-Star draft. He has drafted Luka Doncic all three years he’s been an All-Star. He tried to recruit Luka Doncic to his brand within Nike a few years ago. Luka picked the Jordan brand instead. He, I think, would also love to play with Luka.”

It’s not just all about hearsay from Windhorst here. After all, he is one of the most respected NBA insiders in the industry. The ESPN analyst brings up an excellent point about LeBron’s affinity towards Doncic. In his mind, this potential partnership has more legs than that of a LeBron-Curry duo. “In the fantasy world, to use Steph Curry’s words, if you want to enter the fantasy realm, that is something I think is more worthy of having a discussion about as opposed to Steph,” Windhorst said. “[This is going to be] down the line — I don’t think LeBron’s going anywhere in the short term.”

For one, LeBron has another year left on his contract. So if he were to try and get back to Cleveland for next season, when the Cavs could be really good, Cleveland would either have to trade a bunch of the young players that are part of the team’s exciting core — which LeBron really likes — and probably throw in Kevin Love’s expiring $30 million contract, which the Lakers probably wouldn’t want in a rebuild. Two summers from now, LeBron would be a free agent, but he’s said his last goal in the NBA is to play with his eldest son, Bronny, who as of now will be NBA draft-eligible in the summer of 2024. The easiest, most logical place for the James family to play together is in Los Angeles, where the Lakers, with Paul’s help, can draft or sign him as a free agent. It’s much cleaner if Paul tries to direct Bronny to a team where his dad already plays.

LeBron James has no issues with Lakers power structure

In terms of the James factor, and the question of whether he has an issue with the Lakers’ power structure that is so often questioned by others, sources close to him continue to insist he does not. But the voices that still matter, as we’ve been reminded of late, don’t stop there. As Jeanie told our Bill Oram recently, she still relies on Johnson in the kind of way that surely impacts her view of this team and the uncertain future ahead. “To me, he’s still working with us,” she said. “In terms of his support, his wisdom, his insight, I freely call on him as needed.”

How does his stated desire to play with his son, Bronny, at the end of his own career come into play? There’s no way of knowing just yet, if only because there are so many unknowns on that front. He’s a junior at Sierra Canyon High in Los Angeles at the moment, one who is ranked 43rd in ESPN’s 2023 recruiting database. Based on current league rules, he’ll be draft-eligible in 2024 (the Lakers have no first-round picks that year, but do have a second-rounder). From Buss’ perspective, sources say her focus is on the macro elements of the partnership with James. His happiness matters a great deal, but so does his trust. Hence the reason you saw such staunch support from Paul in his post-meeting statement.

“The dynamic of managing LeBron alone is a thing,” the first GM said. “Could you imagine managing him while trying to manage his son?” The second GM echoed that sentiment.  “I can’t speak for all the other teams, but to plan for a 39-year-old and taking on his son, who I hear is just decent, to make moves for all that, I don’t see it,” he said. “LeBron is still good, but he can’t carry you anymore. The only way I could see doing it is if you needed the box office draw.”

Which, especially for small-market teams, would be quite the bonanza, one NBA team owner said. Hosting the last year of LeBron’s career “would be an automatic sell-out of every game,” the owner said. “If Minnesota signed him, their gate would double. … Sponsorships would go up, and so would TV ratings. It would be temporary, though, so I’m not sure how many teams would want to deal with … accommodating all the requests [from LeBron].”

LeBron James: 'I see myself being with the purple and gold as long as I can play'

Asked if he could see himself with this team long term, James was as direct about his future as he’s been. “This is a franchise I see myself being with. I’m here. I’m here,” James said. “… I literally live in the moment. I do. I live in the moment. I see myself being with the purple and gold as long as I can play. “But I also have a goal that if it’s possible — I don’t even know if it’s possible — that if I can play with my son, I would love to do that. Is that like, something that any man shouldn’t want that in life? That’s like the coolest thing that could possibly happen. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with this franchise.”

He also acknowledged his role in the Lakers’ roster reconstruction, a role he’s taken on throughout his career, though he put limits on his influence. “They ask for my opinion and I voice my opinion and what I believe,” James said of the organization for which he plays. “But I don’t press any buttons. That’s what our front office is for and that’s what our leadership group is for. I don’t press no buttons. So we can state that right now. I do wish that we were just playing better basketball.”

Asked if he believed the Lakers’ front office could construct a winner around him, James offered support. “Very confident. They’ve done it. They’ve shown me that,” he said of the 2020 NBA title the Lakers won. “Ever since I got here, the front office of Jeanie, Linda [Rambis], Kurt [Rambis], everybody, has welcomed me with open arms and has given me an opportunity to play for a historical franchise and welcomed my family in. And I just try to give back my part of the game and inspire kids and inspire people that want to follow the Lakers and put them back at a level that they’re accustomed to being. And that’s always been my focus.”

“I don’t understand how some of my comments over the weekend were taken to a whole different area … I never said I could see myself playing in a Cavaliers uniform. I talked to Jason Lloyd and he asked me, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But actually, me playing for the Cavs, I don’t know. I don’t know about that. Could I see myself retiring as a Cav?’ And he asked me, like ‘What if you just came here and signed for a day and retired as a Cav?’ And I said ‘that possibly could be.’

“And then things about my son, me wanting to play with my son wherever he’s at — You guys take my words and just twist them to different places where they shouldn’t go. Like if I comment or compliment the GM that’s in OKC, I really believe that he’s done a phenomenal job. And you guys spin that to me saying that Rob (Pelinka) is not doing a great job. Or if I say the GM from the Rams, I loved his f*ckin T-shirt. I thought it was dope. And I believe the same way: I don’t care about picks. I only care about winning championships. How is that directed at Rob and the Lakers’ franchise? Rob has done the same thing. He went and got AD, he didn’t care about picks as well, obviously.”

But Paul strongly refuted the notion that there is any sort of divide between James and the Lakers, or that these were all signs of a grand exit plan that’s yet to come. And when the meeting was all done, one in which Paul said some of the time was even spent “laughing and catching up,” he says they all found themselves in a more productive, peaceful place. “I just don’t think (communicating indirectly) is the right way of doing business,” Paul, who also represents the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, told The Athletic. “And I don’t think that’s who we are, who LeBron is. We have a great partnership with the Lakers. The Klutch Sports Group and the Lakers don’t have an issue. Rich Paul and Rob Pelinka don’t have an issue. LeBron James and Rob Pelinka don’t have an issue. And Jeanie Buss and LeBron and Rich Paul don’t have an issue. It’s very simple. Very simple. So, you know, whoever put that type of stuff out, and people run with it, I think it’s unfair to the Lakers.”

Dismissed as “just noise” by a member of the team’s senior management, the situation was serious enough so that James’ agent, Rich Paul, met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka, sources confirmed to The Times. The meeting, which was first reported by ESPN, was to reiterate James’ commitment to the Lakers, who have him under contract for this season and next, and to clear up any perceived issues between the sides. “I don’t understand how some of my comments over the weekend were taken to a whole different area,” James said, claiming that his words were twisted.

Rich Paul meets with Lakers brass, says LeBron James is committed to Lakers

After Pelinka resisted making any deals at the trade deadline, James’ own public comments — raising the possibility of a return to Cleveland and praising Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti — started to fuel speculation that he could leave in free agency in 2023. Paul has privately downplayed that possibility, and told the Lakers that James is committed to playing his part in helping the Lakers to become championship contenders again, sources said.

If James wishes to finish out his contract and possibly his career with the Lakers, he has several options to maximize his earnings. For starters, he will become extension-eligible this offseason for up to two years, $97.1 million, which is the most he can get under the Over-38 rule. It would pay him $50.4 million in his age 40 season. He could also let his contract expire and re-sign with the Lakers in the 2023 offseason. A maximum contract for him then would be valued at $151.3 million over three years.

Last week, we looked at several high-profile players whose futures could be speculated on in next season’s transaction cycle. We briefly touched on James given his history of changing teams when his team’s window appears to be closing and are out of moves, or refuse to make them. We saw this story play out most recently in James’ most recent stint in Cleveland. If James were to hit the nuclear button and demand a trade in the 2022 offseason, he would in all likelihood get one. It’s possible he demands one if the Lakers cannot improve the team in his ever tighter window. It feels like L.A. will have to trade their last remaining assets for win-now players to put around James to keep him next year, even if they don’t believe the return significantly improves their title odds.

Rich Paul on LeBron James leaving Lakers: 'Ridiculous, totally false'

With each Los Angeles Lakers’ mediocre performance this season, their playoff dreams are fading away slowly as they slip further in the standings. As a result, rumors have begun to circulate about a possible LeBron James exit in the near future. However, Shams Charania shut down all of that chatter as a guest on The Pat McAfee Show. LeBron is not leaving. On the show, Charania shared a message from James’ agent, Rich Paul.

Pat McAfee: “I personally don’t see a scenario where LeBron James is bolting from the Lakers to the Cavs.. from everything I’ve been told his plan is to be a Laker for the foreseeable future” ~ @ShamsCharania #PMSLive

Windhorst: Lakers might have to trade LeBron James this summer

The Los Angeles Lakers might have to trade for LeBron James this summer. James has rather clearly been offended by Lakers’ management twice over the past two weeks. First when it elected not to make a deal before the Feb. 10 trade deadline after he had both publicly and privately prodded for something. More accurately, he expected it. And second when Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka stepped over the line when he announced James was on board with the status quo; a source told ESPN there was no prior sign-off from James.

Same as he was doing last week, in the wake of the trade deadline inaction, when he spoke about how his recent knee injury would likely bother him the rest of the season. The knee surely is an issue, but James was also laying the groundwork to give himself options depending on how the rest of the season plays out for the Lakers (27-31). What James is doing is likely aimed at one primary goal: Force the Lakers into major action this summer. He tried to do it nicely and now he’s doing it harshly.

But it isn’t free. Aug. 4 is the first day James can extend his contract again. The Lakers will surely offer one. And James will have some demands before he accepts. The Lakers have a flawed roster — yes, James played a large role in putting it together but that doesn’t mean he isn’t ready to divorce it — but they have options. If Russell Westbrook picks up his own player option, he will be on a $47 million expiring contract. After only being able to trade their 2027 first-round pick — which the Lakers decided not to trade at the deadline, in part because they still owe two future firsts from the Anthony Davis deal — rules will then allow the Lakers to trade their 2029 pick.

Charles Oakley: LeBron James will leave again

According to Oakley, one of the most important things that remain on LeBron’s checklist before he hangs it up would be to win another championship. Oakley isn’t completely confident that James will be able to achieve this with the Lakers and this is exactly why the 58-year-old believes that LeBron is going to part ways with the team sooner rather than later: “You know LeBron, his legacy right now is he definitely wants to win a championship before he retires,” Oaklay claimed on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “He might leave LA to get it. I don’t know if it will be Cleveland, could be somewhere else. He left twice. He’ll leave again.”

Shams Charania: I heard from Rich Paul LeBron isn't leaving Lakers

Pat McAfee: “I heard directly from Rich Paul that LeBron James isn’t leaving the Lakers.. this team just doesn’t look it has the young legs that they need to have & they have been very active in the trade market” @ShamsCharania

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times on ESPN LA: “I’m hearing that, if they whiff on free agency, and if they whiff on a trade – which I don’t know how likely that is, but if that happens, they’ve got big trouble with LeBron. Why would LeBron – I mean, the LeBron era could be over before it starts here. I heard this for the first time yesterday. Somebody very connected said “You know what, if they whiff, LeBron’s going to say either, ‘I’m out of here’ or ‘Get me out of here,’ or the Lakers better just might as well just get him out of here.”

The one thing Hart said he was fairly certain of was that no one on the roster was untouchable with the exception of two players: LeBron James, the team’s lone All-Star, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is represented by Klutch Sports, the same agency that represents James and Davis: “You’re going through it and you’re like ‘Alright, man.’ You had no idea. Like, really, it seemed like nobody was untouchable honestly, besides LeBron and KCP. That was the only untouchable pieces. Fortunately for me, my name wasn’t really thrown in there until the last day when basically everyone on the roster was allegedly getting traded. It was just a weird situation because you had no idea.”
4 years ago via ESPN

Following yet another disheartening loss by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 116-98 to an Orlando Magic team tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, LeBron James said he will not waive his no-trade clause ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. “I’m here for the long haul,” James said. “I’m here for this season right now, [to] try to figure out ways we can still compete. I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t do it. We put too much into the game every single day. We go out and prepare. Win, lose or draw, at the end of the day, we’re all brothers, and we understand that. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”

Cleveland has attempted to behave as a buyer at the trade deadline, but the first approach toward a possible rebuild would be to examine trading the team’s core players — a conversation the Cavaliers have yet to broach with James, and both sides understand his position to play the season out, league sources said. Over the past several days, teams around the league have openly wondered about whether Cleveland would look into James dropping his no-trade — which would clear the way for a potential pursuit. However, James remains solely focused on competing for a championship in Cleveland this season and evaluating his future after the season ends.

LeBron James may or may not be “100 percent” certain to leave Cleveland after this season, but the Cavaliers are reportedly already preparing for life without the King. According to Kevin Durant, James has more than earned the right to dictate the terms of any possible departure. Durant was replying to a tweet Wednesday from rapper Lil Dicky, who said, “If I’m Cleveland, I’m one thousand percent trading LeBron.” James actually has a no-trade clause in his contract, which also gives him the ability to opt out in 2018, but the Warriors forward took the tweet at face value, saying that the Cavs “can’t trade a legend.” “He is Cleveland, he gets to hold the cards,” Durant added.
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Frank Kaminsky, Gorgui Dieng on Wolves' radar

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