I’ll let you in on a poorly-kept secret of mine: I’m not a huge fan of (trade) rumor talk serving as the primary source of NBA coverage.
It especially irks me when it’s done for players well under contract, or done without firm, he’s-absolutely-out-of-there intel. What teams (and players) are doing on the court is infinitely more fun and interesting than where they’re pushing to go in the future, for me. It’s why my writing is mostly film-intensive, and why The Dunker Spot podcast exists.
It’s important for me to set the stage on my general thoughts because I want you to recognize how hypocritical I’m about to be. There’s an exception to every rule, as the old adage goes, and boy is this LeBron James situation looking like the anomaly of all anomalies.
The “where’s he going and when can he get there?” wheels have been turning in my head since Saturday. LeBron decided to use All-Star Weekend — generally a time period for rest, fun, and a celebration of excellence — to send a message to the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office.
We knew he was frustrated with how the season was going; a 27-31 record will do that to you. We can also surmise that’s he’s over the Russell Westbrook Experiment. It’s been a clunky fit on the court that’s come with its own media back-and-forth. And in light of former Lakers showing out (hi, Kyle Kuzma) and other Westbrook alternatives trade targets looking pretty darn good (hi, DeMar DeRozan), it’s easy to see why LeBron’s relationship with the Lakers isn’t particularly peachy.
(Of course, there are some easy counters to be made. One could argue injuries to LeBron and Anthony Davis have played a larger role in this season-from-heck than Westbrook’s missed jumpers. It’s hard to build chemistry when people are in and out of the lineup. Also, hey, LeBron (and Davis) kiiinda vouched for Westbrook, and it’s pretty well documented that rosters are genearlly shaped in LeBron’s image. He isn’t the front office, but he has enough of an influence where the woe-is-me card doesn’t hit the same.)
To the message: LeBron found it appropriate…