Will Lakers Cater To LeBron James’ Roster Demands In Offseason?

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

If people thought things were bad for the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the 2021-22 NBA season, they could get a whole lot worse this summer during the offseason. They are going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place as LeBron James’s future with the team is up in the air.

James spent a majority of the NBA All-Star Weekend providing what seems like an ultimatum to the organization. Either there are some changes made, or his plans on remaining with the Lakers will be altered and he will be elsewhere in the near future.

James heaped praise of Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, which many took as a shot at Rob Pelinka. Pelinka is the Lakers’ general manager and his decision to not pull the trigger on a trade before the deadline is something that reportedly upset James and Klutch Sports.

In addition to the Presti praise, James let it be known that he will be finishing his career wherever his son, Bronny James, is playing. That put all 29 other teams in the league on notice, as acquiring Bronny likely lands LeBron down the road. Leaving the door open for a potential return to Cleveland, which could happen as soon as 2023, was the last salvo sent the Lakers way.

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The Los Angeles Lakers are in quite a predicament. This isn’t a roster that looks like it will contend this season, as the trade for Russell Westbrook has not panned out. They were unwilling to part ways with a 2027 first-round pick to dump him on the Houston Rockets in exchange for John Wall, a move Klutch wanted to see happen. If they are unwilling to move him during the offseason, things could get really ugly in Los Angeles.

This is a series of events we have seen play out before on James-led teams. The Cavaliers were in this spot during his last season with the team during the 2017-18 season. They made a move he wasn’t on board with and he eventually went into cruise control. Once everyone got back on the same page, James turned back into his dominant self and the team was right back in the NBA Finals.

The Lakers benefitted from that, as they were part of one of the deals to get LeBron James players he wanted. In the process, they cleared enough cap space to sign him themselves during free agency in 2019.

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Los Angeles should take notes from that, as this is a flawed team, just as those Cavaliers were. James wants to win and if an organization doesn’t make the moves he and his team feel are right for that, he will do what he can to get them on board. That was likely part of the reason he provided so many headline-grabbing quotes during All-Star weekend, as James is one of the savviest people around when it comes to how to handle media.

The Lakers have officially been put on notice. They have shown they are not willing to cater to James’ demands, otherwise Wall would be in a Lakers uniform and Russell Westbrook would be working out a buyout with the Rockets. Will they be able to stick to their guns?

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Ultimately, the answer is likely no. If the Lakers want to remain competitive, they need an engaged James. This is a team already struggling to stay afloat despite another dominant season with him; imagine where they would be without him. It would certainly be ugly, as they are only 21-20 with him and 6-11 without him.

Keeping LeBron James happy is the only thing that will help the team get another championship any time soon. Without him, the Los Angeles Lakers are in arguably the worst position in the league as they lack draft capital or pieces to build the roster around.

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