LeBron James has seen so many NBA trade deadlines go down, this upcoming one is nothing to him. He’s seen his teams be made over, and others they remained the same. Everyone remembers when the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers did a deadline trade in 2018. The Lakers shipped out Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson for Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye. The Cavs went onto the NBA Finals, while the Lakers paved the way to bring LeBron James to Los Angeles that summer. Trades never seem to shake LeBron mentally. He has kept his focus on pushing his teams to contention with whoever was on the roster.
After Monday’s practice, LeBron was asked about what to expect of the Lakers at the deadline (h/t Harrison Faigen and Silver Screen & Roll):
“I always feel like, listen, I don’t really like to play fantasy basketball, so this is the group that we have going into the deadline, and we’ll be ready to take on all challenges that the season is giving us.
“I’ve said this every year, if there’s an opportunity for you to get better, then you explore those options. I’ve been like that my whole career. I’ve said it over and over. If you have an opportunity to get better, no one turns that down.”
The thing is, LeBron has had a say in what his front offices do for nearly as long as he has been in the NBA. It’s a big reason that Russell Westbrook joined the team. He may not play fantasy basketball, but he isn’t going to stand by if there’s a specific player he wants on his team. Vice versa, the Lakers probably aren’t going to make a move without talking to LeBron first.
Names like Jerami Grant, Myles Turner, Gary Trent Jr., and Josh Richardson have been linked to the Lakers. The team is trying their best to bolster their wing and frontcourt rotation with youth and athleticism. The Lakers are 26-28 and from the looks of the standings, they’ll need to go through the play-in tournament before reaching the playoffs. Everyone knows that this season was title or bust, and now the Lakers have to close that gap.
LeBron has no reason to be phased by what this team looks like when they enter the postseason. He’s still playing high-level basketball and can strike competitive fear in any team’s heart. Anthony Davis is not far behind him. It’s up to the Lakers brass to complete the team and increase their level of talent. Coach Frank Vogel needs the upgrades. He’s a defensive-minded guy that needs players of that mold. The trio of James, Davis, and Russell Westbrook need those complementary parts to elevate their chances at a title.