Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on LeBron James and Pursuit of Kawhi LeonardNovember 12, 2018
The Los Angeles Lakers have become quickly acquainted with the good and the bad of the LeBron James show.
The good on the court: LeBron James on offense. He hasn't been anywhere close to his peak performance level but is still averaging 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists on 50.4 percent shooting. It's remarkable we can hold our nose to a guy performing at levels some of the all-time greats never reached.
The bad on the court: LeBron James playing regular-season defense. LeBron and Jabari Parker seem to be in a nightly competition to see who can come up with the most embarrassing way to give up defensively. This play against the Kings was particularly galling.
Add in all of the daily scrutiny that comes with LeBron playing for the Lakers, and this 7-6 start has probably gotten more attention than it deserves. The Lakers were a 35-win team last season; anyone who expected them to come out like gangbusters was being unrealistic.
The Lakers are also beginning to see the good and the bad off the court.
They were able to sign Tyson Chandler earlier than anyone expected. The Suns surprisingly waived Chandler less than a month into the season rather than allowing him to hang around and mentor Deandre Ayton.
The reason for this was reportedly Suns acting general manager James Jones' relationship with James.
Bleacher Report's Ken Berger reported James "called in a favor" with Jones to get Chandler out of his contract early.
"They could have bought him out at the trade deadline and gotten great leadership and mentoring for two-thirds of the season," an executive told B/R. "But LeBron wanted him now."
Chandler has been solid so far in a Lakers uniform and has filled an important hole, allowing the Lakers to avoid playing an uber small ball lineup that has hemorrhaged points defensively.
However, it appears less likely by the day Kawhi Leonard will ever wear a Lakers uniform. Not only have the Toronto Raptors established themselves as the best team in the East, but all reports from Kawhi's camp seem to have him wary about a pairing with LeBron.
Blake Murphy of The Athletic reported some around the league believe James' "shadow looms too large" to make the Lakers a fit. Leonard is from Southern California and has expressed an interest in returning home, though it's mostly been through behind-the-scenes conjecture.
If Kawhi doesn't bolt for Los Angeles, that could leave the Lakers in the lurch for a second straight offseason. Signing Paul George seemed like a foregone conclusion until he was partying with Russell Westbrook announcing his intention to stay in Oklahoma City. If the Lakers miss out on Leonard, things could get desperate—especially with Jimmy Butler reportedly being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.