Perpetual windbag, master of cohost subterfuge ( and canoodling) and incessant dour criticizer of black athletes, Stephen A. Smith recently commented on the Lakers and what they should do to improve. Smith thinks that trading Lebron James is the path to that end.
Here is what he had to say:
“I think the Los Angeles Lakers should strongly consider trading LeBron James. It’s what I believe. Now, a lot of people are going to lose their minds because the brother is 37, in his 19th year and he just averaged 30 and all this other stuff. If the team was better, he’d have been the league MVP candidate without question. This is not throwing a speck of shade at LeBron James in case he’s watching, which he’ll try to deny it but he’s watching. OK, I’m telling you right now, it’s no shade at all. It’s a testament to his greatness and it’s a compliment to him.”
Trading James may, at a superficial level, seem preposterous , however considering the fact the Lakers find themselves in the unenviable position of being largely bereft of options for quick improvement , this is a possibility that the franchise will at least have to be explored.
As difficult as the hurdle would be to overcome to decide to trade Lebron would be, that would be the easiest part of this equation; finding a suitable trade partners/package could prove far more challenging. One might think there would be 29 teams blowing up Rob Pelinka’s phone if Lebron James was available but that may not be the case. The most obvious and glaring issues is Lebron’s age, as he will turn 38 during the 2022-23 season and how long will he play is a question any interested team will have to ask and consider is it worth it. Statistically speaking, Lebron James had a spectacular season, averaging 30.3 points ( which was second in the league and his highest scoring season since the 2007-08 season) 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists on 52% shooting. However those gaudy numbers did not contribute to team success ; the Lakers were 25-31 in the 56 games James appeared in this season and his plus minus on the season was a -117, the lowest since the -144 of his rookie campaign in 2003-04. This means a team would have to have much better players with to surround Lebron, but that becomes a catch 22 because a team would have to part ways with those good players to bring Lebron in.
This feeds into the next challenge/issue of locatIng a trade to make and a team to take Lebron, and that is fit. History has elucidated i that in order for a Lebron James team to perform optimally ( and by that I mean Lebron primarily) the roster need to consists of veterans and shooters because they are going to run the LeBron James System, which essentially is James operating at the top of key surrounded by shooters who serve as props who merely wait for the ball to be kicked out to them off a Lebron drive. What this means is young teams ( think the Lakers 4 years ago, or the current Grizzlies, Cavaliers, ) , teams who have other primary ball handlers ( Hawks, Celtics, ; Sixers, Mavericks, Suns,Clippers) and teams who don’t shoot the ball well ( Bulls ) are likely out of the mix.
As unlikely as a Lebron is, it would send a seismic shockwave across the NBA landscape. The Lakers have two other high-priced set pieces, whose status may not or should not be set in stone.