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LeBron James Clarifies Comments About Lakers Roster amid Trade Rumors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 7: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during the game against the Sacramento Kings on January 7, 2023 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, 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 2023 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

On Sunday, the Athletic's Sam Amick reported that LeBron James "made it clear that his patience is waning" during an interview regarding the Los Angeles Lakers' reluctance to trade future first-round picks to improve the roster amid a 19-21 start to the season.

"Y'all know what the f--k should be happening," James said. "I don't need to talk."

But the superstar forward quickly cleared a few things up regarding his comments:

LeBron James @KingJames

Upmost respect and calmness cause that's the mood I'm in! Your welcome! 5 game winning streak. πŸ˜‰πŸ‘‘

The Lakers have somewhat righted the ship after a dreadful 2-10 start, which has included the team's current five-game winning streak. Any team with James and Anthony Davis will pose some semblance of a threat in the postseason, especially with LeBron still going strong at 38.

Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee

We've known for a few years that LeBron James would be positioned to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer this season. I couldn't imagine he'd be hunting down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a Ferrari instead of the horse & buggy every other 38 year old or 20-year vet would be using.

Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball

The most successful run of LeBron's career was in Miami where *he wasn't in charge.* He had influence! He had power! But in Miami, people do the jobs they're paid to do. The coaches coach, the players play, the front office front-offices. <br><br>It's not know-how, it's organization.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

The Lakers are essentially in a tie for the last play-in spot, and only 1.5 games out of an actual playoff spot.<br><br>Legit think this front office has a duty to LeBron/AD to make a move. This team fights and can make a legit run. They're not far off.

Getting into the playoffs is hardly a guarantee, however. The Lakers are 12th in the West and haven't exactly built a complementary roster around their superstar players. While Russell Westbrook has embraced a role off the bench and played well since making the change, his poor perimeter shooting and preference to be an on-ball guard still doesn't mesh well with James' skill set.

"They're doing what they feel is best for the franchise," James told Amick when asked about his patience level with president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and governor Jeanie Buss not pulling the trigger on any major moves to adjust the roster.

"Man, listen, I play the game," he added in the interview. "I worry about who's in the locker room. I can'tβ€”it's not my...it's not my job. I can't do nobody else's job."

The question is what this current team's ceiling might be. It's hard to imagine a team that started the season 2-10 or one that was under .500 in January going on to win a championship. There are enough clear roster holes and imperfect fits to suggest that the Lakers might struggle to even make the playoffs.

But given Westbrook's massive contract and the team's general lack of intriguing trade pieces, the only way to truly make improvements would be to dispense with either their 2027 first-rounder, 2029 first-rounder or both.

Thus far, the Lakers have balked at doing so. James is publicly insistent that he isn't growing impatient or pushing the team to make changes. But it's hard to imagine that he isn't acutely aware of the Lakers' roster limitations and how much that caps their upside.