Windhorst: LeBron James to Be 'Spectator' in Free Agency amid Lakers Contract Rumors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2022

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

LeBron James may not be taking an active role in the Los Angeles Lakers' offseason.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday on Get Up that James is "just going to be a spectator for the next six weeks and see what the Lakers are able to do."

"I'm not expecting them to do much," Windhorst said. "And I also think, even if he doesn't extend his contract, it's not necessarily a vote of no confidence in the Lakers. It's just to leave both his options and the Lakers' options open."

Star players typically want to involve themselves in whatever their team is doing, whether it's laying out potential personnel moves or recruiting prospective free agents.

When it comes to the Lakers, though, there might not be much for James to do.

Windhorst cited Juan Toscano-Anderson and Josh Jackson as potential targets for the team, which speaks to how much the franchise has its hands tied.

Toscano-Anderson averaged 13.6 minutes per game for the Golden State Warriors and logged a total of 49 minutes in the team's championship run. The 29-year-old certainly isn't a major difference-maker.

Jackson, meanwhile, has played for four teams through five seasons. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, he has failed to tap into any of the potential he showed in college at Kansas.

A move for Kyrie Irving represented the one real gambit Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka could make, but Irving is planning on returning to the Brooklyn Nets. Absent that trade, it's difficult to see Russell Westbrook going anywhere, so carrying his $47.1 million salary into 2022-23 leaves Pelinka with few options.

At least the narrative around James is a little different from the reporting immediately after the trade deadline, when the Lakers did nothing amid a season that was falling short of expectations.

Pelinka told reporters there was a sense of "alignment" between he, James and Anthony Davis about the team's deadline plans. ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported the picture Pelinka painted was "totally false."

It appears now James has a better understanding of the predicament the organization faces.


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