Lakers' LeBron James, Suns' Devin Booker Among Stars Now Ineligible to Be Traded

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 15, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 16:  LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets in the second half at Crypto.com Arena on December 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, 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.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Some of the best players in the NBA are now ineligible to be traded for the rest of the season.

Bobby Marks of ESPN noted nine players with extension restrictions meet that criteria as of Sunday, including LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Nikola Jokiฤ‡ of the Denver Nuggets, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. of the New Orleans Pelicans, Dean Wade of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Maxi Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks round out the list.

Frankly, most of these players weren't realistic candidates to be traded anyway since they are important pieces of contenders.

The most notable one is James, as an argument could be made that the Lakers would be better off in the long term moving the 38-year-old for a hefty return package and focusing on building toward the future.

That is especially the case since Los Angeles is 19-23, dealing with another Anthony Davis injury and not a likely championship contender barring a drastic turnaround. The team also has a shortage of first-round picks in future years, and trading James could help it restock with some future assets.

James himself may be somewhat frustrated that the Purple and Gold haven't decided to trade their 2027 or 2029 first-round picks to help make win-now moves while he is still on the roster.

Sam Amick of The Athletic (h/t Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports) noted he recently said, "Y'all know what the f--k should be happening. I don't need to talk" in a sign of potential frustration.

However, the King provided some context to those comments on Twitter:

LeBron James @KingJames

Upmost respect and calmness cause that's the mood I'm in! Your welcome! 5 game winning streak. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ‘‘

Whether the Lakers decided to move those 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to help the current iteration of the roster remains to be seen, but one thing that won't happen is a trade involving James.

Because it legally can't.