When the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James to a four-year contract, it instantly changed the trajectory and feeling within the franchise. James arrived at a time he was still viewed as the best player in the NBA and one who would lead the Lakers to the playoffs.
That would mean snapping a five-year drought, but instead it’s set to reach another year as a rash of injuries threw the team off course. Then there are also the very public Anthony Davis trade talks.
Upon Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, informing the New Orleans Pelicans of his client’s desire for a trade, the Lakers aggressively pursued a trade for the All-Star big man. It was believed Davis had a preference for joining the Lakers, which perhaps further influenced the Pelicans into refusing to complete a trade.
How public negotiations became was lamented by both sides after the trade deadline. According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, how those talks were unfolding also led to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss considering trading James:
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.
James was not eligible to receive a no-trade clause in his contract, which in theory makes him just as moveable — if not more — than any player on the roster. Of course, in practicality, trading James would be a monumental and surprising decision.
For now, all signs point to the Lakers remaining committed to James and preparing to find a second All-Star this summer that will help him lead the franchise back to success.