It’s been quite the past week for the Los Angeles Lakers, and they weren’t even playing any basketball games. That’s because of the back-and-forth going on in the media, seemingly with LeBron James, his agent Rich Paul, and Klutch Sports leaking reports while the Lakers’ organization did the same. It culminated with LeBron doing an interview with The Athletic (h/t Harrison Faigen and Silver Screen & Roll) where he said the door wasn’t closed on a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and that he’d play his final season in the NBA alongside his currently-in-high-school son, Bronny James.
And now, despite The Athletic’s Bill Oram reporting that a team source compared the situation the early days of the war, it sounds as if that war quickly quieted down.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the following on Friday afternoon ahead of the Lakers’ game that evening against the Los Angeles Clippers:
In the aftermath of LeBron James’ public comments on a possible return to Cleveland and media reports describing his agency’s displeasure with the organization, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, insisting that there’s no movement underway to seek management changes and that he believes there’s a shared accountability for the franchise’s disappointing season, sources told ESPN.
Paul — whose agency represents stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis — made it clear that James’ primary objective is remaining a Laker and the goal now ought to be to finish the season as strong as possible and then regroup in the offseason and work on ways to improve the team, sources said.
ESPN Sources: @KlutchSports CEO Rich Paul met with Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, insisting there's no movement to seek changes in management and LeBron James' primary objective is remaining a Laker and restoring team to championship contention. https://t.co/02hPrDveTs
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 26, 2022
Of course, it’s easy to roll one’s eyes at the report given the other comments LeBron made during media day (that I examined more closely in this article for Silver Screen & Roll). However, the report also addresses those specific comments with Rich Paul dismissing the weight of said comments from The King:
After Pelinka resisted making any deals at the trade deadline, James’ own public comments — raising the possibility of a return to Cleveland and praising Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti — started to fuel speculation that he could leave in free agency in 2023. Paul has privately downplayed that possibility, and told the Lakers that James is committed to playing his part in helping the Lakers become championship contenders again, sources said.
Before wrapping up this subject, I just want to note that it’s very interesting that Rob Pelinka’s job appears to be safe, but nothing was stated about head coach Frank Vogel’s job. Of course, the testy subject of all the reports was that there was nothing done at the deadline, with that task being out of Vogel’s job description. Still, a vouch for the coaching staff would have been nice alongside management, but of course, I assume Vogel’s job is far less safe than Pelinka’s.
Anyways, we were fools to get all worked up by the reports and LeBron’s words as everything appears to be fine in Laker Land! Let’s go win this 2022 championship now!
I’m kidding, obviously, as this was probably reported by Wojnarowski to further calm the waters before the season resumed. Those waters had already calmed down a bit a couple of days ago after The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that LeBron reportedly still had the plan of being “a Laker for the forseeable future” (shout out again to Silver Screen & Roll). But still, that was a report from Charania, and although this is also a report from Wojnarowski, the verbiage within the report really makes it seem like either Paul, Pelinka, or Buss emailed him exactly what to say about their meeting.
Those three, LeBron, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Lakers will now look to finish these final 24 games (and postseason) in the most positive way they can. Although they obviously have little title hopes with no moves at the deadline and their current status as the 9th seed in the Western Conference, but the report seems to confirm that everyone is fully aware of this and that the improvements will have to be made at the offseason.
Hopefully, given the timing of this report being right before the resumption of the Lakers season, this will be the final note on the punches Klutch and the Lakers have been trading.
Well, until the offseason.