One thing is clear now in Los Angeles. Jeanie Buss is not catering to LeBron James.
Buss has had ample opportunity to bring in “LeBron’s people” over the past year and, in particular, the past month. But the Lakers were not fully invested in bringing in Tyronn Lue as head coach, and they were never serious with having former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin replace Magic Johnson as the team’s head decision-maker.
LeBron and Buss may ultimately have to go their separate ways, and obviously Buss isn’t going anywhere.
“By not bringing in the coach that he wants, you never know what dominos are going to fall,” ESPN’s Steven A. Smith said. “Whether or not that’s going to affect free agents coming to LA or whether it’s going to affect LeBron James staying in LA.”
One scenario that is beginning to be broached is whether or not the Lakers would trade LeBron to the Pelicans for Zion Williamson. Crazy enough as it is, New Orleans would actually be the team that scoffs at this trade. The only way Griffin would do this is if he were able to convince Anthony Davis to sign a longterm contract extension beforehand.
Griffin has an extensive history and strong relationship with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, which represents LeBron and Davis, and is a finalist to represent Zion. If any front office executive in the league could pull this sort of deal off, it is Griffin.
Obviously the Lakers would be ecstatic with a trade that would put Zion in Los Angeles, getting the opportunity to build around a “young LeBron” that from most accounts is a tremendous, ego-less teammate.
This trade actually makes the most sense, far more than a LeBron for Ben Simmons trade to the Sixers, or a LeBron big market trade to the Knicks or Bulls.
Make no mistake, Griffin was brought to New Orleans in a last ditch effort to make Davis stay. Griffin is a “win now” GM, as we saw in Cleveland. Bringing LeBron to the Bayou would finally give Davis the “win now” situation he has never had in New Orleans and would be the ultimate incentive to make him stay put.
A year ago at this time, it was actually Davis who was openly recruiting LeBron to come to New Orleans in free agency. He may finally get his wish.