When LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2018, many thought James would reign over the Western Conference like he has done in the East his entire career. Making a championship run was the initial thought, but 60+ games into the 2018-19 season, the team did not live up to expectations and will be in the draft lottery.
Los Angeles currently sits 11th in the West with a 31-37 record. They are 7.5 games out of the 8th seed.
James is averaging 27.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game this season, but injury woes and chemistry lapses have been reasons for Los Angeles’ demise. During the Anthony Davis trade saga in late January, the Lakers were attempting to trade numerous key pieces for the 26-year-old star but failed to acquire him before the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline on Feb. 10. This caused a disconnect with the front office and its players.
According to Bleacher Report‘s Ric Bucher, Lakers owner and team president Jeanie Buss thought about trading James during the Davis saga.
“The subject of moving James, however, was contemplated by the Lakers, a team source said, weeks before Van Gundy aired it. When rumors engulfed the team at the February trade deadline that it was willing to trade anyone other than James to acquire All-Star forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, James’ agent, Rich Paul, was widely accused of spreading those rumors because Davis is also one of his clients. Paul denied to B/R that he leaked the Lakers’ interest in Davis, but Buss suspected otherwise and was furious. The idea of terminating the franchise’s relationship with Paul by moving James at least crossed Buss’ mind, the team source said, and Paul was made aware of that. That prompted Paul to reach out to Buss to clear the air, and whatever ill will existed supposedly dissipated. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a few weeks later, Buss blamed the media for making the rumors public.”
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) March 15, 2019
Bucher also spoke with a Western Conference general manager who would have been interested in trading for James, but once he realized what he would have to give up for the three-time champion, he was no longer intrigued.
“He’s not good enough anymore to take four cadavers and get to the Finals,” the GM says. “Not in the West.”
“I still think you could get a decent package for him from a bad team,” one Western Conference assistant GM says. “A first-round pick and a good young player. But it would’ve been a lot more a year ago, for sure.”
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