NBA insider predicts Lakers will trade LeBron James this upcoming offseason

Jonathan Sherman
4 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers are failing at the task of helping superstar LeBron James add to his historic NBA resume.

Though the team won the 2020 NBA Finals, it has been an all-out failure since then. The Lakers just barely got into the playoffs in the 2020-21 season, missed the playoffs last season and seem well on their way to missing the playoffs again this season.

Beyond that, the team’s front office has started to signal that it may not be interested in trading away future assets in order to change the roster and give James the weapons he needs to lead a team to victory.

James has apparently started to express his disapproval of the direction of the franchise in recent days.

For all those reasons and more, NBA insider Chris Mannix recently predicted that James will be traded away from the Lakers in the offseason.

“Let’s face it: LeBron James’s decision to extend his contract with the Lakers was a mistake,” he wrote. “It was a mistake for James, who doesn’t need the guaranteed cash, pushing his deal through 2023–24 limited his leverage. It was also a mistake for L.A., which didn’t have the pieces to build a title contender around James and (this season, anyway) doesn’t have the flexibility to do anything with him.

“In an ideal world, the Lakers use the cap space created by Russell Westbrook’s exit next summer to sign Kyrie Irving or Draymond Green, flip a draft pick or two and vault back into contention next season. But if that doesn’t happen, can the Lakers really go into 2023 with James, Anthony Davis and whatever group of castoffs they can assemble around them? Would James want to? Dealing James would take some chutzpah, but if L.A. whiffs on big-ticket items next offseason, is there really a better choice?”

For nearly two decades, the thought of a team willingly trading away James had been unheard of. After all, James has brought at least one NBA title to every franchise he has played for so far in his career.

Though the idea of trading James away is quite alien, it does lead to a really entertaining conversation when it comes to who the Lakers would trade him to. Surely, the Lakers would have to trade him to a team that is ready to contend.

If the Lakers sent James to a bottom-dwelling team, it would likely dramatically hurt the organization’s reputation in the eyes of current and future NBA fans for many years to come.

However, the need to trade James to a potential contender would probably impact the Lakers’ ability to get the kind of return that they would want.

All in all, the team is in a terrible pickle. Trading away James in the upcoming offseason would not fix things in any way. It would likely signal a complete rebuild by the organization. However, the idea of squandering James’ final prime seasons also seems like a really questionable decision.

So, as the 2022-23 seasons wears on and the season continues to approach the February trade deadline, fans will have to keep an eye out to see if the organization makes any indications of what its plans are for the future.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.