Lakers Rumors: No Indication LeBron James Wants to Leave LA amid Trade Buzz

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 9, 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

LeBron James may be ramping up the pressure on the Los Angeles Lakers front office to make a move, but that doesn't mean he's looking for one of his own.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst said he does not believe James will attempt to force a trade if the Lakers fail to make a meaningful move this season.

"His contract extension that he did last year...that was the actions of somebody who has no intention of leaving the Lakers," Windhorst said on the Hoop Collective podcast (30-minute mark). "So, really, his weapon is to make the Lakers uncomfortable. It's not a threat he's going to walk on them. I think the Lakers are fully aware of that.

"And, after they made one of the more disastrous trades in the history of the NBA [the Russell Westbrook trade], they are being very cautious about making a second trade that could really kneecap them."

James sent a not-so-coded message to Lakers management Saturday night in an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, all but spelling out he wants the roster to improve.

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

The four-time NBA MVP later took to Twitter in an attempt to clarify his comments, saying "my patience isn't waning."

LeBron James @KingJames

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

That said, James is 20 years into his NBA career and he's spent nearly 25 years in the public spotlight. He is nothing if calculated with his words.

From the outside, this appears to be a clear attempt at sending a message while retaining plausible deniabilityβ€”the exact type of move a pro of the media game would pull.

James wants a better roster around him and Anthony Davis because this one is clearly lacking. The Westbrook trade remains an unmitigated disaster that's left the team in a state of limbo, unable to improve the roster unless the front office agrees to attach future first-round picks to his contract.

While LeBron may not be eager to leave Los Angeles, he's not playing the game at age 38 to compete for play-in berths, either.