Report: Warriors and 76ers pursued LeBron James at trade deadline

Peter Dewey
5 Min Read
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers pursued Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James at the trade deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

The Lakers did not end up moving James, as the team appears to be focused on making a title run with the four-time champion leading the way this season.

“Over a clandestine 24-hour window prior to the trade deadline last Thursday that included owner-to-owner conversations, the Golden State Warriors made an unsuccessful bid to convince the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James to consider a trade to pair him with longtime rival Stephen Curry, sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote.

Both the Lakers and James were unwilling to explore a deal with Golden State, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne. Curry and James are longtime rivals, matching up in the NBA Finals in four consecutive seasons during James’ second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Armed with the encouragement of Warriors star Draymond Green, Golden State owner Joe Lacob reached out to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss to inquire whether James’ apparent public frustration could be interpreted as an opening to discuss a trade, sources said,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote.

The Warriors have played below expectations this season, sitting in the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference with a 26-25 record. The team has won five straight games, but it’s possible that Green and others within the Golden State organization viewed adding James as a guarantee that the team could compete for a title this season.

According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, Buss told the Warriors that the team had no interest in trading James at the deadline. The Lakers star could become a free agent this coming offseason, as he has a player option for the 2024-25 campaign.

Still, Buss showed the team’s commitment to James, reportedly telling Lacob that he’d need to discuss James’ state of mind with his agent Rich Paul.

“As an owner, Buss has operated with the mindset that she wants her star players content with the franchise, and that instructed her thinking on referring Warriors leadership to James’ representation, sources said,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote.

It appears that Paul, James and the Lakers were united in pushing back on Golden State’s request for James.

“Rich Paul told Lacob and Warriors GM Mike Dunleavy Jr., that James had no interest in a trade and wanted to remain a Laker, sources said,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote. “When Dunleavy reached out to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka in those pretrade deadline hours, Dunleavy had been told the same: The Lakers wanted to keep James, sources said.”

The Warriors weren’t the only team to inquire about James, as the Sixers reportedly also reached out to Los Angeles regarding the availability of the four-time MVP.

“Dunleavy was the second team executive call to Pelinka on a possible James trade, sources said,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote. “After seeing James’ cryptic social media post of an hourglass a week before the trade deadline, Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey called Pelinka to probe on a James trade and was immediately told that James wasn’t available. In fact, Pelinka responded by asking Morey if Joel Embiid was available, sources said.”

It had been reported that the Lakers hadn’t internally reacted to James’ attempts to apply pressure ahead of the deadline. Those attempts included cryptic social media posts and the Lakers superstar displaying a New York Knicks towel in a postgame interview after beating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Ultimately, it seems that the Lakers and James are committed to each other – at least through the 2023-24 season. James could always change his mind in the offseason, but the fact that he didn’t want a trade to another contender speaks volumes about his desire to remain in Los Angeles.

The Lakers are hoping that they can make a run similar to the one they made last season after the trade deadline, although the team didn’t make any trades at this season’s deadline.

Los Angeles currently sits in the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference with a 29-26 record after winning seven of its last 10 games.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.