Windhorst: LeBron James 'Doesn't Care' About Lakers' Picks amid Kyrie Irving Rumors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on March 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. 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. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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When it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers' roster construction well into the future, LeBron James isn't overly concerned.

With the Lakers linked to Kyrie Irving since the NBA offseason really got started, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Thursday on Get Up he "can't articulate how little LeBron cares about the Lakers' 2029 first-round pick."

Windhorst added that James has "never cared about first-round draft picks" and "doesn't care about first-round draft picks when they're on his team."

This comes as no surprise to anyone who remembers James' response to a shirt worn by Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead during the Rams' Super Bowl celebration. Snead's shirt read "F--k them picks," which led LeBron to call him "my type of guy."

LeBron James @KingJames

LEGEND! My type of guy!! <a href="https://t.co/QaHTlBAbJn">https://t.co/QaHTlBAbJn</a>

James' priorities are understandable.

He's going to turn 38 in December and has looked mortal for the first time in his career during his run in L.A. The four-time MVP missed 27 games in his first season and then 53 combined games over the last two years.

James wants to win right now, and the Lakers probably won't be able to trade a first-rounder until 2027 at the earliest. LeBron may not still be in the NBA by then, let alone plying his trade in purple and gold.

Of course, general manager Rob Pelinka has to determine whether that's the best course for the franchise.

Earlier in LeBron's career, you could justify sacrificing your entire future in order to strengthen James' supporting cast. He'd give you a good chance of at least reaching the NBA Finals every year he was on the roster, and that was worth him leaving behind a bare cupboard.

Now, the bargain isn't quite the same. The Lakers won a title in 2020 but have since missed the playoffs and lost in the first round with James.

Using one or two first-round picks to land Irving will strengthen Los Angeles in the short term because the Brooklyn Nets star is an upgrade over Russell Westbrook. But it could be a case of throwing good money after bad should the Lakers once again suffer an early postseason exit.

The front office would be further hamstrung with how it could retool for the future as well.

In 2010, the organization was enjoying the second of its back-to-back titles. Three years later, L.A. lost in the first round of the playoffs and then embarked on a six-year postseason drought.

The outlook could be similarly bleak if Pelinka uses what's left of the Lakers' trade assets for Irving or another notable veteran. But he might have little other choice if appeasing James in order to entice him to re-sign after next season is the objective laid out by ownership.