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NBA

Lakers’ wont trade LeBron James even if he rejects extension

There is no way that the star or his team can be pleased with the season that wasn’t, but what happens now as they look to the future?

Paul Rudder
Update:
Lakers’ LeBron James won’t be traded if he rejects contract extension
Jake RothUSA TODAY Sports

The Lakers won’t let LeBron James go easily

The situation between arguably the NBA’s biggest franchise and most definitely the biggest player just got a little more interesting. It’s no secret that LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t on the best of terms in recent times. Having endured a disastrous season, both parties have got to be wondering what happens next. Even more so considering that front office leaks continue to indicate that James is largely seen as the major culprit in what is widely considered a failed experiment involving the acquisition - pushed by James - of Russell Westbrook. Many will recall of course the fact that during the All-Star weekend, James was complimentary to say the least when it came to his views on other teams’ executives. To say that his future remains uncertain at this point would be stating the obvious. What happens next? Lets take a look.

Whats LeBron James’ contractual status?

At present James is eligible for a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension. Honestly speaking, the Lakers are going to offer said extension even if - hypothetically speaking - James doesn’t want it. Indeed, that’s where things get interesting. According to reports, athe Lakers owner Jeanie Buss wouldn’t James’potential refusal as a reason to trade him. To be clear James will become a free agent in 2023 without an extension. While it is definitely too early to speculate as to what he might do, James has stated openly that he intends to play with whatever team his son Bronny James is drafted to. As things stand the earliest LeBron’s son could play in the NBA is 2024, meaning the Lakers who gave up a first round pick in their trade with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis could well stand to lose James when another team selects his son. For the moment all we can do is watch this space.

What is clear is that the franchise seems content to take things slowly. While it would appear that the relationship between the team and their star player remains as strong as ever, it’s no secret that the Lakers are a team in transition and even more so following the dismissal of and subsequent search for a head coach. Then there is the situation surrounding the aforementioned Russell Westbrook. Will the Lakers trade him and rebuild with a focus on James and Anthony Davis, or will they try to truly integrate the former MVP which is something he directly criticized the franchise for not doing?

What will the Lakers and LeBron James do?

As mentioned above, things are at a stand still for the moment. What is clear is that both sides would like to make things work, but what that looks like is not yet clear. James for his part - along with his family - is well and truly comfortable in Los Angeles. Where Anthony Davis is concerned, it’s widely accepted that the big man - injuries aside - is a worthy co-pilot for James. What then is the best solution? The sensible option here would be to continue with the James. Having spent years looking for a player who could boast the star power of Kobe Bryant, losing James would be detrimental to the cause. Perhpas the short term option here would be to show LeBron James that there is a long term future with the franchise.

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