Kevin Durant Rejects Narrative That LeBron James Commands Lakers' Roster Decisions

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 26, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant doesn't believe LeBron James wields all-encompassing power within the Los Angeles Lakers' decision-making process.

Durant discussed James as part of a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill after the Nets were eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

"I feel like that's a narrative that [the media created]. I don't even think LeBron does that," KD said. "He might have input or know some information. But him saying [pointing left], 'This is who you should get.' [Points right.] 'That's who you should get.' I don't think it works like that."

The 12-time All-Star said based on his own experiences, as well as time around the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, that top players often like to know who's being pursued by the front office, but don't actually wield control over the moves.

"I don't want to know because I'm the 'franchise player,' it's just the fact I want to know who my teammates are," Durant told Goodwill. "It's disrespectful for me to come and try to override what they do because of my status in the league. That's not fair to them. Everybody has a career. I just want to know."

James has garnered a lot of heat since the Lakers missed the playoffs, which came after a major offseason roster reconstruction that included a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook and the signing of Carmelo Anthony, James' longtime friend.

While the Melo signing actually worked out quite well, it's the Westbrook deal that's caused the most internal strife following Los Angeles' shocking fall out of the postseason picture.

"The blame internally appears to be focused on injuries, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James for pressuring the team to trade for Westbrook," Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus reported in early April.

If James did push the Lakers' front office to finalize a trade for Westbrook, he deserves some blame for L.A. putting together one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. It's still the front office's job to build the roster, however, and the team as a whole fell short.

Now the question is how Los Angeles will approach this offseason. It can't retain the same group and expect different results, and there's the added uncertainty of James entering the final year of his contract with no sign he's planning to sign an extension.

Instead, he's discussed wanting to play with Curry and confirmed he'd like to finish his career playing alongside his son Bronny, a 2024 draft prospect.

So if James already has one foot out the door, should the Lakers build another veteran-laden roster at a high cost that may only have a modest chance at serious contention? It's a tough question to answer.

Without a new contract in place, LeBron doesn't figure to have a ton of say in the front office's plans, regardless of how much pull he had in the past.