There’s absolutely no way the Los Angeles Lakers will look into a LeBron James trade this summer, right? Absolutely no way. RIGHT?
Well, there’s some information coming out of Southern California that four-time champion Lakers head coach Phil Jackson could very well be pushing for this behind the scenes. Given that he’s a consultant in the Lakers’ search for a new head coach, this is something we shouldn’t take lightly.
“I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded,” Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times told The Doug Gottlieb Show. 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.”
This is interesting in that earlier on Monday it was noted that Russell Westbrook is now more likely to remain a member of the Lakers than he was earlier in the offseason.
Initially, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Los Angeles would move off him after one disappointing season that saw the team lose 49 games. But Russ isn’t the story here. It’s all about Lebron James and his future with the Lakers.
There’s a major backdrop to all of this, too. King James is eligible to sign a super-max contract extension this offseason. If he doesn’t do that, the four-time NBA champion would become a free agent in the summer of 2023 — furthering rumors that he might end up leaving the Lakers to finish out his career.
Related: Los Angeles Lakers updated rumors
Los Angeles Lakers push back against idea LeBron James is running the show
General manager Rob Pelinka and Co. were inactive ahead of the February 10 NBA trade deadline. At that point, there were rumors that the brass was attempting to send the all-time great a message. He spearheaded the trade for Westbrook and other veterans last summer, moves that provided to be disasters.
In talking about this, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss firmly denied that James and his agent over at Klutch Sports, Rich Paul, were running the show in Southern California.
Even before the Lakers finished up shop on a disastrous 2021-22 season, Buss reportedly held a meeting with James’ “chaos agents” to have a frank conversation about their roles. Whatever that means is anyone’s best guess. But it’s become clear that tension is growing between all sides.
Related: Updated NBA trade rumors
Does Phil Jackson have input on a potential LeBron James trade?
There’s obviously been rumors in the past that Buss and Jackson have seen one another romantically. Their presence together within the confines of the Southern California nightlife has added to this. Buss touched on that recently while both denying that their relationship is romantic and acknowledging that Jackson has some sway.
“People see us around town, we have breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever … it’s not anything romantic. He’s somebody that knows this environment and knows the challenges I have and wants to see the Lakers successful. So he’s somebody I know doesn’t have any other agenda than for the Lakers to be successful, so he’s somebody that I can lean on.”Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss on relationship with Phil Jackson
The matriarch of the Lakers’ organization went on to say that she trusts Jackso and her “relationship with him is as good as it’s ever been.”
There’s a lot of moving parts here. The Lakers are not serious title contenders with their roster in its current iteration. The Russell Westbrook contract is more of a deterrent when it comes to roster-building. Anthony Davis is an injury-plagued enigma.
Meanwhile, rumors about a potential LeBron James trade will not die down until he either signs an extension with the Lakers or opts to hit free agency in the summer of 2023.
Welcome to the new version of the Showtime Lakers. It’s going to be something else once the summer comes calling. And if that does include a Lebron James trade, the game’s most-popular player will once again control the news cycle around the Association.