For a guy who has repeatedly stated his limited patience and notes when his patience is tested, it sounded like LeBron James’ patience was nearly depleted. When asked about the roster of the Los Angeles Lakers, he told The Athletic, “You all know what the (expletive) should be going on. I don’t need to say anything.”
Essentially, James is suggesting that the Lakers make a trade involving first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to make them contenders while James is still playing at an All-NBA level.
Shortly after The Athletic published the article, James responded in a tweet, writing, “Actually, Sam, my patience is not waning. You make it sound like I’m annoyed when I’m not. My job is to focus on the guys in the locker room, not the roster, as I’ve repeatedly stated. That is the truth of the conversation. And I said it with the utmost respect and calmness because that’s how I feel! You are most welcome! A five-game winning streak.”
Aside from James’ patience, what are the Lakers doing this season to improve their roster? What are they doing to get the most out of James, who is averaging 29.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 51.1% from the field and closing in on Kareem Abdul-all-time Jabbar’s scoring record?
James is putting up unprecedented stats for a 38-year-old star in his 20th NBA season, and doing nothing seems very un-Lakers-like. With a league-high 17 championships, this is one of the NBA’s flagship franchises. They are behaving like a small-market team concerned about assets, rather than like a franchise in a premier market with significant resources.
Why aren’t you doing everything you can to win a championship now that you have LeBron James?
The Lakers’ trade deadline is Feb. 9, and much of what they do or don’t do revolves around future draught picks. The Lakers have been and continue to be hesitant to trade those picks, attempting to balance the present and the future. Their obsession with future draught picks is perplexing, given that there are ways to recoup first-round picks in the future.
The Lakers improved to 19-21 with a win over Sacramento on Saturday, in which James had 37 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. That is only 11th place in the competitive West, but it is also 712 games out of first place, two games out of fifth place, and 312 games out of fourth place.
Moving up to fourth requires passing several teams, but it’s not impossible. Is there a trade that could help the Lakers compete for a championship this season?
The Lakers are also hampered by Anthony Davis’ injury. There is no timetable for his return, and the Lakers are attempting to maintain as much leverage as possible ahead of the trade deadline in order to avoid appearing desperate. It’s unclear what deal the Lakers have now. That is up to Rob Pelinka and his staff to decide, and it is becoming less likely that they will move Russell Westbrook, whose move to the bench has benefited the Lakers with increased and more efficient production.
In the West, only two teams (Memphis and Denver) and possibly a third (New Orleans) have separated themselves. All of the teams expected to compete for a championship, including Golden State, Phoenix, and the Los Angeles Clippers, are struggling. There is an opportunity to make a push in the West.
You don’t sign a player like James to an extension just to be a minor league team in the West. It makes no difference whether James wants to express his frustration publicly or not. Interpreting what James says has become a cottage industry. But, as he has repeatedly stated, he wants to win. He’s not content with just playing. He can do it in a high-level Los Angeles pickup game. But disregard what he said or did not say.
This is about the Lakers and their position as one of the league’s top franchises.
The Lakers’ failure to improve the roster does not so much a disservice to James as it does to the franchise’s stated goal of championship expectations.