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LeBron James meets with Los Angeles Lakers stars, ‘commits’ to making things work

Vincent Frank

It’s been a whirlwind for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers since they won the NBA title in the Orlando Bubble to conclude the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season what seems to be eons ago.

Most recently, King James and his Lakers are coming off an embarrassing 49-loss 2021-22 campaign in which a ton of the focus was on Russell Westbrook’s struggles.

It’s led to a ton of speculation that the Lakers could very well look to move off Westbrook with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving potentially landing in Southern California.

With that as a backdrop, it appears that James has met with both Westbrook and fellow former All-Star Anthony Davis recently.

“The Los Angeles Lakers’ Big 3 of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook huddled up on a phone conversation the first weekend of NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with each expressing their commitment to one another and vowing to make it work.”

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports

There’s been widespread recent speculation that James is spearheading the Lakers’ efforts to acquire Irving, his former teammate with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a trade that would send Westbrook to the Big Apple.

In fact, there seems to be a rift between James and the Lakers’ brass when it comes to a vision for the future.

“I can’t articulate how little LeBron cares about the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick. He’s never cared about first-round draft picks. He doesn’t care about first-round draft picks when they’re on his team. He wants to win tonight, and Kyrie Irving gives him a chance tonight.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on Lebron james, Los Angeles Lakers rift

For their part, the Lakers have pushed back against including a second first-round pick that would come with acquiring Irving from Brooklyn for Westbrook. Led by owner Jeanie Buss, there’s been reluctance to continue mortgaging the future for this iteration of the Lakers.

Related: LeBron James and the NBA’s top-50 players of 2022

LeBron James contract situation will also soon come to a head

los angeles lakers, lebron james
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The 37-year-old James is under contract through the 2022-23 season. He’s eligible to sign a two-year extension that would come in at roughly $97.1 millio. Up to this point, there’s been no indication that James plans on doing that.

If not, he could enter the 2022-23 NBA season having put the Lakers in a less-than-ideal situation. Why would Buss and Co. mortgage the future for a player that has not committed to the organization for more than one season? James will be eligible to sign said extension in early August, likely giving us more of an idea about his future plans in the process.

  • LeBron James stats (2021-22): 30.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 52% shooting, 36% 3-point

As you can see, James is still playing at an incredibly high level. Unfortunately, his supporting cast has not picked it up.

In addition to Westbrook struggling last season, Anthony Davis missed 42 games to injury. He’s sat out 78 games over the past two seasons. At the very least, it seems that James is in communication with Westbrook and AD. That can’t be seen as a bad thing given what is happening around the NBA today.