The All-Star break put the Los Angeles Lakers in the spotlight due to the rumors of a conflict between LeBron James and the franchise.
James’ praise for general managers of other teams and comments on a potential reunion with the Cleveland Cavaliers led to questions over the 37-year-old future’s in L.A. But after he returned from the All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, the forward claimed his words have been misinterpreted and that he has no intentions of leaving the team.
Also, James’ agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports has denied claims that there are tensions between him and Rob Pelinka, L.A.’s vice president of basketball operations and general manager.
Paul reportedly did meet with Pelinka and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss during the break to discuss the rumors. Asked about the meeting, James suggested some people are “jealous” of his and Klutch’s close relationship with the franchise.
“I heard it just like you guys heard it. You guys saw the report,” he said. “I was literally just trying to get away from the game as much as I could before this later stage takes over. But I think it’s always important that it always stays transparent between us, and we don’t really care about the outside noise.
“I think a lot of people are, to be honest, just jealous of the relationship that Rich has with this front office and this team, and the relationship that I have that I’ve grown over the last four years. I mean, that’s what I think that boils down to.”
James didn’t deny his displeasure with the Lakers’ results this season, acknowledging that “record-wise,” he hasn’t been in a similar situation since his early NBA days. But the forward rejected suggestions he forces the Lakers’ hand in any way to improve the team.
“Well, first of all, I don’t push the buttons,” James stated. “They ask for my opinion, and I voice my opinion and what I believe. But I don’t press any buttons. That’s what our front office is for, that’s what our leadership group is for. I don’t press no buttons. So we can state that right now.
“I do wish that we were just playing better basketball, and between me, AD, and Russ on the floor at the same time, I think there’s less than 15 games this season. And that’s the biggest disappointment so far that us three, because we all wanted to see this work, and we just haven’t been on the floor. I don’t know how many games it’s been, I think it’s less than 15. 17?
“That’s pretty bad when you only got 20-some games left.”
James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook have played just 20 games together — and will have to wait a few weeks before they share the court again this season.
Davis suffered a mid-foot injury in the win over the Utah Jazz before the All-Star Weekend and is expected to be re-evaluated toward the end of March.
James sees himself with Lakers until retirement
Explaining his comments about returning to Cleveland, James said he didn’t want to rule out the possibility of signing a one-day contract with the Cavaliers and retiring in the place he began his NBA career.
The forward added he could remain with the Lakers until the end of his playing times.
“I see myself being with the Purple and Gold as long as I can play.”
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