Speaking on The Sedano Show, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times and ESPNs Dave McMenamin both said they have reason to believe the Lakers are skating on thin ice with LeBron, who could feasibly want to part ways with the Lakers prematurely should they fail to put together a championship-contending roster in the very near future. Here are the comments worth noting from the show:
Bill Plaschke: LeBron Could Leave If Lakers Whiff on Free Agency and Trades This Offseason
Bill Plaschke: Im hearing that if they whiff on free agency, and if they whiff on a trade, which I dont know how likely that is, but if that happens, theyve got big trouble with LeBron. I mean the LeBron era could be over before it starts here.
Dave McMenamin: Everyone I speak to associated with LeBron, they are holding the rope for now, and all they can do is be positive because this is going to be a crucial five-week stretch. But on the other side of that, if its July 10th in Los Angeles and its Nic Vucevic [that the Lakers have had to settle for], or whomever does not meet the criterion of bringing in a star who can make them an immediate contender, you could only imagine where things could go.
Plaschke: I heard this for the first time yesterday, somebody very connected said You know what, if they whiff, LeBrons going to say either Im out of here or get me out of here, or the Lakers just might as well just get him out of here. So this is huge.
Before we go any further, lets be clear that LeBron is under contract with the Lakers for at least the next two seasons (the final year of his four-year deal is a player option, meaning he can opt out of his contract after three years in the summer of 2021). If he were to become unhappy and for whatever reason want out of Los Angeles, the Lakers wouldnt have to grant him his wish. Technically.
But we know how these things go. We know the pressure that comes with the threat of losing a star player for nothing, and we surely understand the power and influence that LeBron and his power camp wield. If they want out, and they make it known, and they start pressing their panic-inducing buttons, the Lakers are going to be feeling some serious heat.
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Beyond that, lets look at this practically. Yes, trading LeBron sounds outrageous, but if the Lakers dont add anyone of consequence this summer, theyre not going to be a championship contender. They might not even be a playoff team. They could, theoretically, bail on next season and wait for Anthony Davis to potentially, hopefully, come to them as a free agent in 2020, but thats a big wild card.
If Davis gets moved somewhere else this summer and likes that situation enough to sign long-term — say in Boston, or New York — what do the Lakers do then? Risk spending the duration of LeBrons contract, which was supposed to put them in the championship picture, topping out as a second-tier playoff team with nothing significant to show in the summer of 2020, when he could just walk away for nothing?
If the Lakers dont score big this summer, they simply have to start thinking beyond the LeBron James era, as premature as that may sound after the first year of a deal. That doesnt mean they have to do anything. But they have to think about it. And if LeBron and his camp start pressing the issue even more, well, you can read the handwriting. To say this is a big summer in the land of Purple and Gold is an understatement.
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Would keeping LeBron just to win a few more games and potentially make it to the first or second round of the playoffs be worth giving up a trade package that could absolutely stock their future?
Share Share Josh Hart wants the Lakers to sign Jimmy Butler and/or Kyrie Irving, build a superteam tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart has been on a lot of podcasts over the last couple weeks, evidently with the intention of getting people ready for his own show, which is apparently something he thinks people want.
Not only did he fail to make the NBA Finals for the first time in eight seasons, James was also at the center of one of the most dysfunctional seasons for an NBA team in recent memory.
Most importantly — and as Hart points out — winning is the biggest thing here. So whether that comes for the Lakers by way of Hart and some combination of a couple stars, or if Hart will have to carry a larger load because the Lakers struck out, winning has to remain the focus.
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As the 2019 offseason begins, James has high hopes that his second season with the Lakers will be more successful than the first was.
A lot of that will be dependent on whether or not the Lakers front office can surround James with more talent either through free agency or via trade.
According to Evan Dammarell or Forbes.com, the Cleveland Cavaliers may have a crucial role to play in helping Beal and James team up in the Purple and Gold.
“But, there also could be a few snags that could arise in a hypothetical Beal to Los Angeles deal,” he wrote. “If Washington were to agree to a trade, they would be looking to shed some of their bloated contracts as well. Right now John Wall’s supermax deal (4 years, $170 million), as well as Ian Mahinmi’s ($15.5 million owed for 2019-20) and Dwight Howard’s ($5.6 million owed for 2019-20), are the three biggest offenders on Washington’s payroll. The Wizards will probably not be able to offload Wall’s contract, as he is still recovering from an Achilles injury, but can try and attach either Mahinmi’s or Howard’s remaining salary in a possible Beal trade. The problem is, the Lakers want to maintain financial flexibility to court any free agents this summer and adding extra salary would foil their ambitions. That is why the Lakers and Wizards would probably have to find a third team in order to make the deal happen.
“Thankfully, there’s a team that James knows all too well that can make this trade happen. The Cleveland Cavaliers are deep into a rebuild after James left town to join the Lakers, and are more than willing to take on bloated contracts in order to help expedite the process. Cleveland also has J.R. Smith’s partially guaranteed contract worth $3.9 million, the twenty-sixth overall pick, as well as future expiring contracts like Tristan Thompson ($18.5 million), Brandon Knight ($15.6 million), Jordan Clarkson ($13.4 million), John Henson ($9.7 million) and Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6 million) to work with as well. If the Wizards were willing to part with future draft picks, all while getting Ball and the fourth pick from Los Angeles, it would only incentivize Cleveland further to take on either Mahinmi’s or Howard’s contract.”
The Cavs have made their willingness to help facilitate deals for teams that are looking to build talent in return for future assets known. This kind of blockbuster haul could land the Cavs quite a bit of return if they do express willingness to take on some of Washington’s huge contracts so that the Lakers don’t have to.
While the Cavs surely wouldn’t get the shiny new piece as a part of the deal, they would be doing a great job of better preparing for the future.
The Wizards finished the 2018-19 season with a record of 32-50. Beal’s talent alone likely accounted for many of those wins. If they were to trade him away, any first-round picks that they would be willing to part with would likely be high valuable when it comes to future draft lotteries.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Cavs want to play this kind of role of sending talent to L.A., but chances are good that if the deal is right, they will make it.