LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been at odds over the vision for the franchise, leading to speculations over the four-time NBA champion’s future in L.A.
James represented the Lakers as the team’s only player during the 2022 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, leading Team LeBron to its fifth straight All-Star Game win on Sunday. But before that, the 37-year-old fueled rumors of a conflict with vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka, praising general managers of other NBA teams.
The superstar forward then said “the door’s not closed” on a reunion with his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. James also praised the Cavaliers and their All-Star debutants, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, before adding: “And they got another guy in the All-Star, and that’s me.”
However, The Athletic’s Shams Charania said on “The Pat McAfee Show” James wants to stay with the Lakers “for the foreseeable future” despite the rumored tensions between the two sides:
I personally right now, I don’t see a scenario where LeBron James is bolting [from] the Lakers [to] the Cavaliers. I don’t see that scenario. Now, could he retire one day on a one-day contract as a member of the Cavs? Sure. But as of right now, LeBron James, from everything I’ve been told, his plan is to be a Laker. His plan is to be a Laker for the foreseeable future and ride this out. But again, Pat, there’s going to be a level of frustration. All-Star Weekend was in Cleveland. And, you know, I’m sure LeBron James Anthony Davis, they’ve all been shouldering the burden of the season, this season has not gone the way that they expected. The team isn’t constructed the way that they all expected it to be constructed. And so, what you’re seeing now is the results of it. And when their expectations, when there’s championship aspirations, you know, that there’s going to be a level of blame that falls on everyone, I think, you’re starting to see that level blame on these guys. But also, they’ve been without Kendrick Nunn all year. And I’m not trying to hype up Kendrick Nunn, but that’s the guy that you give $5 million to, he’s the highest guy that they paid this offseason because they really didn’t have much money available after they made the trade for Russell Westbrook, so they gave Kendrick Nunn $5 million. He’s supposed to be their big addition coming off the bench and he has yet to play this season.
James will enter the final year of his contract with the Purple and Gold this summer, meaning he will become eligible for a two-year extension worth over $97 million in August.
Whether or not L.A.’s superstar has conflicted with Pelinka, the general manager reportedly has the “unwavering support” of the Lakers owner Jeanie Buss
James says he’ll play with son Bronny before retiring
James has mentioned the possibility of teaming up with his son, Bronny, on numerous occasions in the past. During this year’s All-Star Weekend, the forward confirmed he will “do whatever it takes” to share the court with Bronny before retiring.
As of now, Bronny will become draft-eligible in 2024 — but the NBA could still abolish the rules preventing young players to enter the league straight after high school, which would allow James’ son to declare for the 2023 NBA Draft.
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