LeBron James questions Lakers for reluctance to make trade: ‘Y’all know what the f— should be happening’
LeBron James, it seems, has had enough. Following his 37-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 136-134 win over the Sacramento Kings, which extended their winning streak to a season-high five games, James spoke with The Athletic about the absence. of movement on the trade front and made itself quite clear.
“You all know what the f— has to happen,” James said. “I don’t need to talk.”
What James is referring to is the Lakers trading one or both of their remaining first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to help him. The front office, however, has been reluctant to part with any of the assets for fear of mortgaging the future for a mediocre team.
James has previously made indirect comments through the media to try to put pressure on the front office.
During a special episode of “The Shop” in November, James lamented the lack of talent surrounding Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, another aging superstar. “When you have an outstanding, franchise player like Aaron Rodgers … Why wouldn’t you surround him, when you have the picks, to maximize what he can do?” James said.
In late December, after a five-game losing streak, he questioned how long he could continue playing in such a situation. “I’m a winner and I want to win. I want to win and give myself a chance to win, and still compete for championships,” James said. “Playing basketball at this level just to play basketball is not in my DNA. It’s not in my DNA anymore. We’ll see what happens and see how fresh my mind stays over the next two years.”
With the Lakers now enjoying their most impressive stretch of the season (one with Anthony Davis sidelined), he’s taken a more direct approach. His comments late Saturday made it clear he’s not a fan of the approach the front office is taking. The latest revelation, quoted at the top of the post, was just part of a longer conversation that reads, in part:
The Athletic: Seeing you and the team play so well, especially with AD out, makes me wonder what the conversations are like with (president of basketball operations) Rob (Pelinka) and (owner) Jeanie (Buss) these days about as for the list. What is the nature of your message? How is that communication?
James: “Listen, I play the game. I worry about who’s in the locker room. I can’t – it’s not my … it’s not my job. I can’t do anybody else’s job.”
The Athletic: But LeBron, you’re 38 years old and you’re doing things that have never been done.
James: “I know that.”
The Athletic: And the idea that a team would hold a few picks and wait until next year…
James: “Well, if you know, then you guys know. You guys know. I don’t need to talk about it. You guys know.”
The Athletic: But how is your patience level? Does that aspect (of this situation) appeal to you?
James: “They’re doing what they think is best for the franchise.”
The Athletic: How do you feel about that?
James: “I’m doing the best for my guys in the locker room. That’s all I can worry about.”
James later took to Twitter in an attempt to clarify his point and do some damage control. “Hey Sam [Amick, The Athletic writer who did the original interview] In fact, my patience is not wearing thin,” James wrote. “You make it sound like I’m frustrated when I really am not. I’ve told you over and over, my job is focused on the guys in the locker room, my job is not the roster. This is the reality of that conversation. And I said what I said with the greatest respect and calmness, because that’s the mood I’m in! [You’re] welcome! 5-game winning streak.”
The Lakers will always be involved in trade rumors, but the topic has been more charged and complicated than ever over the past year. Russell Westbrook’s dilemma appears to have been resolved by his improved play off the bench since he accepted that role, but little has been.
James is still performing at an elite level as he enters the final years of a legendary career and wants the organization to do everything possible to compete in the here and now. There are some problems with this. One, James’ insistence that the Lakers trade for Westbrook in the first place took away much of their remaining flexibility. All that’s left now in terms of interesting assets are the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, which won’t be fulfilled until likely after James retires and could end up being extremely valuable.
Other than that, the team just isn’t that great and Anthony Davis hasn’t proven he can stay on the floor. Even with this five-game winning streak, the Lakers are just 19-21 and can’t even play as we approach the midway point of the season. What player or players are available that would make a significant difference to the Lakers’ championship hopes?
To this point, the Lakers’ front office hasn’t been fired up, but will they maintain that resolve in the face of increased public pressure from James? The next month until the Feb. 9 trade deadline will be fascinating.