Lakers Rumors: Phil Jackson Wants LA to Trade LeBron James, Keep Russell WestbrookMay 11, 2022
LeBron James could be on a different team than the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022-23 if Hall of Famer Phil Jackson has his way.
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times appeared on The Doug Gottlieb Show and said: "I've heard that Phil would like LeBron traded. I've just heard that. … I do know that Phil would like to keep [Russell] Westbrook and try to make it work with him."
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported Jackson is "significantly involved" in Los Angeles' search for its next head coach after it fired Frank Vogel.
It is obvious changes need to be made with the Lakers.
They were the league's biggest disappointment with a 33-49 record, which wasn't even good enough to qualify for the play-in tournament. The roster had future Hall of Famers in James, Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony, but that wasn't enough to come close to a .500 record.
Westbrook did not fit alongside James because both are so ball-dominant, and the point guard cannot consistently space the floor with his poor outside shooting. Health was also a concern as James and Davis missed time.
Keeping Westbrook might be a shocking move, especially instead of James.
It should be noted that Jackson and James don't have the best relationship.
The King told reporters in 2016 that he lost respect for Jackson when the then-president of the New York Knicks called his business associates a "posse."
Still, there is no arguing with Jackson's reputation as arguably the greatest coach in NBA history. He led the Chicago Bulls and Lakers to 11 championships and 13 NBA Finals trips while directing legendary players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Scottie Pippen.
Five of those titles and seven of the NBA Finals trips came with the Purple and Gold, and he also has a longtime relationship with Lakers president Jeanie Buss. Buss recently told Plaschke her former boyfriend is helping in the process of choosing a new coach.
Yet Jackson's time in the front office with the Knicks is much maligned.
Moving on from James just two years after he helped lead Los Angeles to a title would also generate plenty of criticism.