LeBron James the GM 'Was Horrid' for Lakers, Says Stephen A. Smith

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 11, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James sits on the bench during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

LeBron James deserves blame for the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles during the 2021-22 season because of his work in putting together the team, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Get Up:

"LeBron the player was an MVP-caliber player. LeBron the general manager was horrid," Smith said Monday (starts at 1:40 mark). "Because he was the one that OK'd and pushed for Russell Westbrook to arrive in Los Angeles knowing—because of his basketball IQ—the chances of them meshing together as teammates was not going to work."

The Lakers acquired Westbrook in an offseason trade with the Washington Wizards to complete a Big Three alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis. The experiment failed miserably, with the team finishing the season 33-49, short of even the play-in tournament.

James and agent Rich Paul were a major reason the Lakers first acquired Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. The move led to an NBA title in 2020, but the forward has played just 76 games over the last two years combined because of injuries.

The acquisition of Westbrook was an even bigger question mark, but James reportedly had a major hand in that too.

NBA reporter Marc Stein reported in January that the Lakers landed Westbrook instead of Buddy Hield at the "urging" of James and Davis. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times also reported the three superstars had dinner together to discuss the move prior to the trade. 

Free-agent addition Carmelo Anthony is also a longtime friend of James.

Though Rob Pelinka is the Lakers' general manager, LeBron had his handprints all over the failed roster.

James did his part on the court in 56 games, averaging 30.3 points and 8.2 rebounds during his 19th year in the league.