The Early Days of War

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Updated: March 1, 2022
bron early days of war

In a recent report by The Athletic, the state of LeBron’s relationship with the Lakers was described as being in “The Early Days of War.”  An early obituary for the LA franchise which many prophesied to make the Finals, now appears to be destined for the play-in, 21-and-a-half games behind the Suns. With Anthony Davis out with yet another lower-body injury, the hope for the Lakers was to use the All-Star break as a bit of a breather before the last 25 game push to the playoffs. Instead, Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka were served with a preliminary warning on the tenure of King James. With praises of other general managers and a soft promise to play his last year in the NBA with his son Bronny on whichever team may draft him, LeBron had begun his notorious pressure play on the front office after the Lakers failed to move Westbrook at the trade deadline.

Despite the reports this week that agent Rich Paul and Klutch have denied the state of turmoil depicted by The Athletic, it is impossible to erase the recent collection of interviews by LeBron. To add insult to injury, their first game back after the break was a bloodbath against none other than the franchise that Anthony Davis and Klutch left in ruins to create the Bron + Brow super team. The Pelicans came into Crypto Arena and buried the Lakers early with a 44-point 3rd quarter and a final box score of 123 to 95. Another wasted 30+ point performance by the King and yet another proof to the theory that this team is a 1st-round-playoff-knockout waiting to happen if they can even get past the play-in.

These techniques of pressuring front offices are standard procedures by the crown and his henchmen. However, unlike Bron’s days in Cleveland and Miami, the Lakers have already emptied the clip when it comes to assets. The AD trade came with arguably the steepest price tag for a superstar acquisition in modern history and the Russell Westbrook trade only months ago solidified the roster for better or worse moving forward. Not only have the Lakers been all-in with James and their title-or-bust aspirations, but it is also heavily reported that Davis and Westbrook were both moves motivated by the LeBron/Klutch camp.

There have been complaints made through back channels that Bron wanted Westbrook and the Lakers 2027 pick sent to Houston for John Wall (a Klutch client) and that Pelinka’s refusal to include the pick in the exchange was the fuse to this debacle. However, the idea that the John Wall 44-million-dollar contract and the 47-million-dollar player option attached to it next season would ever be sold as a plus asset is such a ludicrous proposition it is difficult to put into words. Especially since Wall has played all of a dozen games since he signed his super max back in Washington and has been sidelined with injuries for nearly the entirety of the contract.

The truth of the matter is, even when healthy, the Lakers have been an utter disappointment. A lateral move of Wall for Westbrook could translate into some addition by subtraction but no one in the Klutch camp is under the delusion that such a move would transform this roster into a title contender this year—especially with the constant health problems of not only Davis but James this season. All of this though was already known prior to the All-Star break. So, despite the theatrics in Cleveland and the drama in La La Land, how is any of this actually relevant to the rest of the league?

Well, unlike all other LeBron situations from the past, due to his age and inability to carry a team to the Finals alone, trade discussions have begun circling his name. Not by random blogs or an obscure Bill Simmons’ take on The Ringer but by many ESPN talking heads who have dedicated several segments to the serious contemplation of a Lakers’ rebuild centered around a LeBron James trade this offseason. With only 1 year left on his current contract, one would assume that trading Bron might be a problematic task. However, as we’ve seen in the recent CP3/Phoenix collaboration or the short yet fruitful cameo of Kawhi in Toronto, an all-time great can swing the winds of fate quite dramatically. With the current state of chaos in the city of angels, it can also be assumed that Lebron would welcome a 1-year mercenary contract on a contender before free agency.

Is it a likely outcome that the Buss family and their dinner party entourage would trade away the corporation known as LeBron James? In short…no—especially as we saw them ride a sinking ship anchored by a semi-washed Kobe Bryant in his last two years in the purple gold, it is built in their DNA to coast on fame and familiarity for as long as possible. However, if the Cleveland circus was any sort of prequel to the catastrophe that will follow an early playoff exit at the hands of the Warriors or Suns, maybe it will be King James himself who demands a trade out of Los Angeles and back to the Eastern Conference.

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