LeBron James is tired of waiting for Lakers’ moves: What our walk-and-talk chat revealed

LeBron James is tired of waiting for Lakers’ moves: What our walk-and-talk chat revealed

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – For more than two hours at the Golden 1 Center on Saturday night, the 38-year-old lebron james he reminded the masses—once again—that his greatness remains.

Father Time be damned.

Seve Anthony Davis-less lakers won a fifth straight match, this time 136-134 against the rookie kings, and it was James’ millennial brilliance (37 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) that made it possible. Yet as James headed for a plane bound for Denver, with the Lakers’ return to the playoff race seemingly slipping away when Davis went down with a right foot injury in mid-December, it was his two minutes of candor at the Lakers’ staff management that will likely be remembered even more than his last notable outing.

In his most extensive comments yet about the Lakers’ lack of upgrades, and more specifically the reluctance to trade 2027 and 2029 first-round picks that some team officials believe would be better used to pursue another star player this summer, James made that clear. that his patience is wearing thin.

“You all know what has to happen,” he said The Athletic at the end of our short but revealing conversation. “I don’t need to talk.”

But he spoke. And with the Feb. 9 trade deadline looming, his words are sure to be heard within the Lakers’ walls. The question now is whether they will make a difference.

The internal debate about these elections and how best to use them has been ongoing since last summer. The Lakers spent the days heading to training camp seriously considering yes trade Russell Westbrook and both of the first round al Indiana Pacers in exchange for Myles Turner i Buddy Hield. In the end, it was decided to wait for a deal that would have a more significant impact on the Lakers’ roster, both now and in the future.

Plus, there was a desire to see what this group could do under first-year coach Darvin Ham before deciding whether a trade of this magnitude was worth the hefty price tag. As I reported last month, Westbrook’s improved play in his role as the sixth man has gotten him there it is unlikely that it will be treated. Along the way, there have been concerns that this team simply isn’t good enough to justify trades that would cost the organization its few remaining assets while leaving it a long way from title contender status.

Yet somehow, with key players like Austin Reaves i Lonnie Walker IV Also with injuries right now, the Lakers (19-21) are now just 1 1/2 games out of a top-six spot and 7 1/2 games back of the Western Conference leader. Denver Nuggets. And James, it seems clear, has grown tired of waiting.

The following is a transcript of our entire one-on-one conversation, which we’ve shared in full below in the interest of showing the full scope of how James chose to use his voice during this sensitive time in his season. With his travel essentials in hand, James walked to the team bus and chatted with The Athletic after his post-game press conference with reporters.

Seeing you and the team play so well, especially with AD out, I wonder what the conversations are with (president of basketball operations) Rob (Pelinka) and (owner) Jeanie (Buss) these days about does the template What is the nature of your message? How is this communication?

Man listen, I play the game. I’m worried about who’s in the locker room. I can’t, it’s not my… it’s not my job. I can’t do anyone else’s job.

But LeBron, you’re 38 years old and you’re doing things that have never been done before.

I know that.

And the idea that a team would hang on to a few picks and wait until next year…

Well, if you know, you know. You know it. I don’t need to talk about it. You know it.

But if you stand still, time will keep moving, won’t it?

Listen, you know. It’s not rocket science. It’s not rocket science.

But is this conversation (with ownership and management) evolving?

I’m working. I do not have time. We play every other day, three (of) four nights. I don’t have time to be…

Well, but we have cell phones. We can call people.

Listen, I’m doing my job. That’s all I can do.

But how is your patience level? Is this aspect (of this situation) throwing you off?

They are doing what they feel is best for the franchise.

How do you feel about it?

I’m doing what’s best for my guys in the locker room. That’s all I can worry about. I will leave you all…

A brief pause as he walks away and one last unmistakable comment shouted from almost 20 meters away…

You all know what should happen. I don’t need to talk.

But here’s the thing about James’ decision to be so forthright: His message only matters because he’s holding up his end of this deal with the Lakers. And then some.

After signing a two-year, $97.1 million extension last summer that has a player option for the 2024-25 season, James (29.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists per party) is achieving the kind of feats that even his younger self could. t arrive Regardless of age, those marks (29, eight and six) have been accomplished just nine times in league history, according to (Oscar Robertson four times, Michael Jordan once, James Harden once, Larry Bird once, Westbrook once and James once last season).

It’s the kind of production that should soften the blow of his statements, as no one within the Lakers organization should be surprised that James wants to capitalize on these last few years where he continues to play at an all-around level the times Many assumed he would be relegated to the record chase during that time, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record of 38,387 points now just 422 points away. But as James commented during his postgame press conference, and as he he said so ominously after a game in Miami on Dec. 28 as well, winning remains his top priority.

“I’ve always, always, had one goal, and that’s to win,” James said. “I have always watched what we can become. I said early (that) we were young. We were a young team and now we are coming together. We don’t know who we are. We don’t know what our identity is. We had a new coaching staff, you know, (where) you’re implementing things at the beginning of the season. Without DS (Dennis Schroeder). He didn’t even start the season, breaking his thumb.

“We had injuries here and there, guys in and out, so it took a toll on us. I mean, we still (are) leading the league in most starting lineups — 21 starting lineups so far in less than 40 games, the which is crazy. But we’re just trying to figure it out, trying to play for each other and not give in. We really don’t care what other people say about our ball club… We just want to play. You play the game of the right way, and I think the basketball Gods give it back to you… We play hard. We fight. We grind out, and then we live with the results and go from there. So we’ve given ourselves a good chance to be the best team we can be.”

Unless, of course, there are moves to make that can make them even better.

(Top photo: Rocky Widner / NBAE via Getty Images)

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