Even though the Los Angeles Lakers were on a break for All-Star Weekend, they and LeBron James were at the forefront of the NBA drama and gossip.
With the Lakers struggling and heading for another Play-In Tournament appearance, rumors began to circulate about James eventually wanting out and perhaps going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. James did not make matters any better when he did not explicitly rule out a return to Cleveland and also confirmed that his last season in the league will be spent playing with his son Bronny James wherever he ends up being drafted.
There have also been rumblings that James and Klutch Sports were unhappy about the Lakers standing pat at the trade deadline, with some reports going so far as to say that tension between the two sides was only escalating. After a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, James cleared the air about his stance with the front office and the potential of him leaving.
“Very confident. They’ve done it, they’ve shown me that. Ever since I got here, the front office, Jeanie, Linda, Kurt, everybody has welcomed me with open arms and has given me an opportunity to play for a historical franchise,
welcome my family in. I just try to give back my part of the game and inspire kids and inspire people that want to follow the Lakers and put them back at a level that they’re accustomed to be, and that’s always been my focus. I don’t understand how some of my comments over the weekend was taken to a whole different area of, ‘could I see myself retiring as a Cavalier.’ I never said I would see myself playing in a Cavalier’s uniform. I talked to Jason Lloyd, and he asked me, and I said, well I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but actually me playing for the Cavs, I don’t know about that. Could I see myself retiring as a Cav? And he asked me, did you just come and sign for a day and retire as a Cav, that possibly could be. Things about my son, me wanting to play with my son wherever he’s at and going there. You guys take some of my words and twist them to different places they shouldn’t go.
“And if I comment, or compliment a GM that’s in OKC, I really believe he’s done a phenomenal job, and you guys spin that to me saying Rob isn’t doing a great job. Or if I said, the GM from the Rams, I loved his f—ing t-shirt, I thought it was dope. I believe the same way, I don’t care about picks, I care about winning championships, well how is that directed at Rob and the Lakers’ franchise. Rob has done the same thing, they went and got AD, they didn’t care about picks as well, obviously.”
James went on to clarify that he plans on playing for the Lakers moving forward.
“This is a franchise I see myself being with.”
His current contract only goes through next season though, so he was unwilling to commit beyond that, which isn’t a surprise.
“I’m here. I’m here. You guys, I continue to tell you guys, Dave [McMenamin] knows me more than any one of your guys, and I’ll tell you, I literally live in the moment. I do. I live in the moment. And I see myself being with the Purple and Gold as long as I can play. But also, I have a goal that if it’s possible, and I don’t even know if it’s possible, but if I can play with my son, I would love to do that… That’s like the coolest thing that could possibly happen. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with this franchise.”
It was an emphatic response from James, who sounded annoyed that he had to clarify the comments he made, but also a good sign for the Lakers that he is committed to playing with them for the foreseeable future as has been reported. Despite their losing record, James has publicly remained optimistic about their outlook for the remainder of the season and seems dedicated to trying to turn things around.
Of course, things can change quickly with James and the situation, but for now, it would be wasted energy trying to figure out what his next move is. James and the Lakers will need to work together to try and put the franchise back where it belongs and can take a step in the right direction with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
Frank Vogel not concerned with LeBron James’ comments
While most people might think James is unhappy in Los Angeles because of his recent comments, head coach Frank Vogel was not one of them. Instead, Vogel said that he was able to tune out the noise over the break and manage to enjoy some much-needed time with his family.