LeBron James Trade Rumors: Lakers Star Won't Demand Move from LAL

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2019

LeBron James applauds as he watches on a giant overhead video screen as a member of the military is honored during a timeout in the first half of an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in New York. James and other NBA stars, including Houston Rockets Chris Paul, left, turned out to watch final game of Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's NBA career. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Despite the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles, LeBron James does not appear willing to force his way out via trade.

"Jalen Rose said the same thing myself and even Max Kellerman said. [Rose said] 'He should ask for a trade,'" ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said on Monday's Get Up. "In other words, we don't know. We don't believe that's what LeBron James will do. Matter of fact, I'm told it's not what he will do.

"I'm certainly told...the Lakers will not trade him either, even though there's been people in Hollywood, not basketball people, but people in Hollywood in Jeanie Buss' ear telling her, 'Get rid of him. Trade him. Just rebuild because ya'll ain't going anywhere anyway.' But again, he doesn't have a no-trade clause, so you could conceivably move him. That's not something they're going to do. It's not something he's thinking about doing."

James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers last July, embarking on a journey that's been arguably more frustrating than anything he's done in his NBA career. The Lakers (37-45) missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season—James' first missed postseason since 2004-05—while LeBron also had his most extended injury absence of his career after straining his groin on Christmas.

The Lakers also had an aborted attempt at an Anthony Davis trade, saw Magic Johnson abruptly resign as president of basketball operations and had both Ty Lue and Monty Williams turn down their head coaching offer (in part because of an organizational desire to have Jason Kidd on the staff). Frank Vogel ultimately agreed to coach the team with that stipulation. 

Any rumors of James wanting a trade were always a little silly. LeBron himself went on Instagram and responded to rumors that he had lost trust in the Lakers organization last month, calling them "not true at all."

The Lakers were not going to trade LeBron James because you do not trade LeBron James. It's as simple as that. These things are not done. LeBron does not have an on-paper no-trade clause, but he has a "I'm LeBron James" no-trade clause. Any team willing to sacrifice the assets necessary to acquire James—a massive haul in terms of young players, draft picks, etc.—would want his assurance that he's willing to stay there.

LeBron himself would not want to go to an organization that stripped itself bare of assets to acquire him. He's in the business of winning championships, and the requisite trade package would take any team out of title contention. We saw last season that LeBron himself is not enough to carry a team single-handedly anymore. That would leave the Lakers with the option of trading LeBron James for such a paltry return that they'd be excoriated on social media. 

There is no world in which LeBron asks for a trade or the Lakers grant such a request.

Los Angeles is an organization in disarray with a fanbase that's starting to lose faith. Trading LeBron is not the way to engender faith, and the optics for James requesting a trade from a team that he chose to go to a year ago would be horrible.

They're stuck together, for better or worse.