The Los Angeles Lakers may need to make some moves to be a legitimate playoff threat as they attempt to overcome their slow start to the season and a foot injury to Anthony Davis, but LeBron James made it clear he isn't the one who will be doing the wheeling and dealing.
"Not a question for me," James told reporters when asked if he was worried the front office would hesitate to make a trade with Davis sidelined. "I have no idea. When I'm playing, I show up, prepare, go to work and get my guys ready to go win a basketball game. I play the game. I'm not in the front office, so we'll see. But I'm focused on the game and us trying to win basketball games, especially when I'm out on the floor."
The Lakers escaped Sunday's matchup against the Washington Wizards with a 119-117 win thanks to Thomas Bryant's late basket on a broken play, but they are facing an uphill battle in the coming weeks.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported "Davis is expected to miss at least one month."
The timing is particularly troublesome for Los Angeles, which was just starting to play better basketball after a 2-10 start, in large part because of Davis. It is now 13-16 on the campaign, and Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
Therein lies the predicament the front office will now have to juggle ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
Any team with James and Davis on it is theoretically a threat to compete for a deep playoff run, so adding via trade may be the path it chooses. However, the Lakers are also in 12th place in the Western Conference standings and could fall even further with Davis out.
This could be shaping up to be something of a lost season, and mortgaging future assets may not be worth it for the organization even though the 37-year-old James will surely be thinking about winning in the present.
Jovan Buha of The Athletic noted "over the past few years, James has been vocal against the notion that he has a significant hand in building his teams' rosters," which could have contributed to his answer when asked about the front office's decision-making process.
Yet much of the discussion still revolves around him, especially since he has a player option for the 2024-25 season and could choose to go elsewhere if he is not pleased with the direction the Lakers are headed.
For now, the Purple and Gold will look to build on Sunday's win and their 3-1 record in the last four games as they hit the road to face the Phoenix Suns on Monday.