Shaquille O’Neal says the Lakers will ‘never win again’ without LeBron James

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal said in an interview with CNBC that the Lakers will “never” win another title if they trade superstar LeBron James.

“If you trade LeBron, you’ll never win again,” O’Neal said.

The Lakers won a title with James during the 2019-20 season, but they have struggled in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns.

Los Angeles has dealt with injuries to James and Anthony Davis over the past two seasons, and it led to the Lakers finishing with the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference last season.

This season, Los Angeles has been even worse, as it holds the No. 9 seed in the West with just 22 games to play in the 2021-22 campaign. The Lakers’ trade for Russell Westbrook this past offseason has backfired a bit, as the former MVP has struggled shooting the ball and hasn’t fit in alongside James in the lineup.

Despite all of that, James is having an MVP-caliber season, and that may be why O’Neal thinks the Lakers will be doomed if they move on from the four-time champion in a trade.

This season, James is averaging 29.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc.

However, the Lakers have constructed the roster around him with veterans that have underperformed for most of the 2021-22 season.

“If you put LeBron around the right guys, they are definitely going to win,” O’Neal said. “I think whoever put the team together needs to step up and try and fix it.”

The Lakers don’t have many assets to turn around the roster, as they were liquidated in the trades for Davis and Westbrook. Still, the team could try to move young guard Talen Horton-Tucker to get a more proven player in the rotation for next season.

Right now, James and the Lakers will try to dig themselves out of the No. 9 spot and into the playoff picture in the Western Conference. If the season ended today, the Lakers would be facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs through the league’s play-in tournament.

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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.