What Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka Have Done to LeBron James in Year 20 Should be Illegal

Maybe I’m biased as a certified LeBron Stan since day one, but LeBron is not worse as a player than he was, say, two or three years ago. He really isn’t.

Even though he’s about to turn 38, I really don’t see much of a drop-off in his play. When he’s not playing well, it’s because he’s not 100% healthy–when he’s got something wrong with his lower body, his shot is off, as would be the case with just about every player. And that’s the real issue as he’s gotten older: he’s just not made of vibranium anymore. He can’t play a full season, he can only play 50-60 games a year now.

But when he does play, and he’s healthy, he’s still totally capable of giving you an efficient 30-40 point triple double.

The other night against the Kings he dropped 31 points on 11/21 shooting. He had 11 assists and 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, only committed 2 turnovers, and overall was a -4 in a game his team lost 134-120. They were down 20 going into the 4th. 

What about that stat line isn’t standard LeBron James? I’ll bet he wasn’t as dominant on defense, but that’s been the case for a while now. He’s no longer able to dominate both ends of the floor for 39 minutes a night. He’s been picking and choosing his spots on defense for years now, that’s nothing new.

Seriously, where is the evidence he can’t carry his team anymore? Even if he would’ve had 41 points they would’ve lost.

The evidence, people will say, is that his teams aren’t winning.

And it sounds like an open and shut case. The proof that he can no longer carry is that his teams are no longer winning. 

But what I’m saying here is that even 2013 LeBron could not turn this team into a playoff contender. This is the worst supporting cast he’s ever had. 

He’s had some bad supporting casts, but none of them are even close to this one, and I don’t think people understand just how bad it really is.

People need to understand that. They think because LeBron used to carry bad teams to the Finals when he was with Cleveland (both stints, actually–2007, 2015 and 2018), then the fact that he’s not able to turn this Lakers team into a playoff contender is proof that he’s just not the same anymore.

But I’m telling you: he’s never had a supporting cast this bad. Not even when he was in his first stint in Cleveland.

LeBron’s supporting casts in his early years in Cleveland were bad, but they weren’t as bad as people think they were. I mean obviously when you compare them to what other stars had around them at the time—the Spurs, the Magic, the Wizards, the Lakers after getting Gasol , the Heat up until about 2008—then yes, his supporting casts were bad. 

But at least those teams were built with some logic. They were assembled by a front office that actually had a semblance of a clue of how to build an NBA roster. 

They were built for defense. They ranked really highly in defense every year during LeBron’s first stint in Cleveland.

The 2007 Cavs, the team that went to the Finals and got swept by the Spurs, ranked 4th in the league in defense. That wasn’t just LeBron. You don’t rank 4th in the league in defense with only one good defender. In fact, LeBron didn’t make his first All Defensive team until the 2009 season.

LeBron was a really good defender by 2007 even if he wasn’t recognized by the media voters–in fact, he ranked 6th in the league in Defensive Box Plus/Minus and wasn’t even selected as a Second Team All Defensive player–but the 2007 Cavs had some good defenders. Anderson Varejao ranked 11th in the league in DBPM that year. Eric Snow was always a really good wing defender; Sasha Pavlovic, Big Z, even Larry Hughes were all plus defenders that season.

He had some shooters around him too. Not elite shooters but some of those guys could knock down open shots. Sasha Pavlovic and Boobie Gibson both shot over 40% from three in 2007.

I am not saying his Cavs rosters from 2006-2010 were #ActuallyGood. I’m just saying they weren’t quite as bad as people think, and they actually made some sense from the perspective of roster construction by the GM.

The real problem for those Cavs teams was that they just didn’t have a legitimate second scoring option. Otherwise, they had defense, they had shooting, they had size–they were just missing one more guy who could create his own shot and get 17-22 points a night consistently.

What made me realize how not horrible those Cavs teams were is how much of a train wreck the Lakers teams of the past two years have been. The 2022 and 2023 Lakers make LeBron’s supporting casts in Cleveland during the first stint look like the Showtime Lakers.

This year’s Laker team is a little better than last year’s but not by much. And probably only because Anthony Davis has been healthy for a good stretch, played like a top-5 player, and they won a lot of games and competed really well against the best teams in the league.

Where the early LeBron Cavaliers teams have an edge over these Lakers is, like I was talking about just a minute ago: those Cavs teams actually made sense in terms of how they were assembled and apportioned. You could look at those teams and while you’d obviously see there was not much talent around LeBron, you knew why every guy was on the team. You knew everyone’s role on those teams. They at least tried to cover all their bases when it came to basic, fundamental needs for a basketball team: shooting, rebounding, defense, passing, etc. They had players for each of the five positions and were not going to be vulnerable to any massive mismatches other than in the straight up talent department.

This Laker team doesn’t even make sense. I’ve been saying this since the off-season and so has pretty much anyone who pays attention to the Lakers: this is not a real NBA team in 2023. Everyone knew in the summer they wouldn’t be able to go into the actual season with that roster looking the way it did, and that they would have to make some trades to turn it into a real roster. But they didn’t. They went into the season with the roster that everyone could clearly see was not a real NBA roster. 

If I had to give the Lakers front office a grade for this roster it wouldn’t be an F, it would be an “Incomplete”. It’s not a finished product. It’s like 60% of the way done.

They have square pegs jammed into round holes all over the place. They are missing multiple important positions. It isn’t a real NBA roster.

They have Russell Westbrook, Pat Bev and Dennis Schroeder all playing the same position. Against the Kings, they even started Pat Bev and Schroder:

So who is playing shooting guard? Lonnie Walker? Okay, if that’s the case, then who is the point guard? Schroder?

Then what position is Pat Bev actually playing here?

Small forward? He’s definitely not playing power forward or center!

Patrick Beverly might be shoehorned in there at shooting guard, but the guy is 6’1″. He is not big enough to defend shooting guards. He was set up to fail going up against that massive Kings lineup.

The shortest player in the Kings starting lineup is DeAaron Fox, and he’s 6’3″. Otherwise, it was Kevin Huerter at 6’7″, Harrison Barnes at 6’8″, Keegan Murray at 6’8″, and then Sabonis at 6’11”.

The Lakers were absolutely dwarfed by that Kings lineup. LeBron is 6’9″ and Thomas Bryant is 6’10”, but other than them, it was all short guys. I love Lonnie Walker, but the dude is only 6’4″. He’s expected to defend 6’8″ Harrison Barnes?

And then you have either 6’3″ Dennis Schroder or 6’1″ Pat Bev defending 6’7″ Kevin Huerter? That’s just not going to work.

When you look at the Laker bench, you have Max Christie, who is 6’6″, but he’s a rookie and has barely played this year. Wenyen Gabriel is nice but he only got 15 minutes of PT against the Kings.

Troy Brown, who is 6’6″, is basically unplayable at this point, as is Kendrick Nunn, who might be the worst player in the league. And he’s only 6’2″ so he’s a liability on defense. Damian Jones, the backup center, is pretty much unplayable also.

But that was it. That was the Lakers’ rotation against the Kings. The game was over before it even started.

Now, I understand that obviously AD is out for at least a month, Westbrook was out, and so was Austin Reaves. So the Lakers were basically missing 3 of their top 4 players. You can debate if Austin Reaves is better than Lonnie Walker, but Walker is the 5th best player on the team at worst.

I’m sorry, but not even 2013 LeBron is winning games with that roster the Lakers trotted out against Sacramento.

There was no consistent shooting out there on the floor for LA. Pat Bev is shooting 27% from three this year, Schroder is shooting 34.7%, LeBron is only shooting 30% from three this year. Lonnie Walker is the only guy in that starting Lakers lineup that has been decent from three this season, and he’s at about 39.7%.

The 2023 Lakers have almost no size outside of LeBron, AD, Wenyen Gabriel, and Thomas Bryant. They have two or three decent shooters: Lonnie Walker and Austin Reaves, and then maybe Max Christie who, again, is a 19 year old rookie.

Look at this roster, man:

More than half the roster is 6’6″ or shorter. Cole Swider isn’t even on the team right now, he’s down in the G-League I believe.

This isn’t a real basketball team. Look at all those point guards!

Darvin Ham doesn’t have much to work with here. Maybe you start Max Christie over Pat Bev, but that still leaves you without a real small forward, assuming LeBron is having to play the 4.

The Lakers just don’t have the pieces. JTA and Troy Brown are basically unplayable, so they literally have no small forwards that are playable. LeBron has to play the 4 now.

Personally, if I were in Darvin Ham’s shoes for that Kings game, I’d have gone with Schroder at the point, Lonnie or Max Christie at the 2, LeBron at the 3, Wenyen Gabriel at the 4 and Bryant at center.

But even if you do that, Wenyen Gabriel has no backup. He and LeBron are the only power forwards listed on the roster. So basically Wenyen Gabriel has to play 30+ minutes a night.

Getting Westbrook and Reaves back doesn’t help, either, because they’re both guards.

The Lakers have way too many guards, and not even front court guys (3s, 4s and 5s).

It’s like having a toolbox that only has hammers—no screwdriver, no Allen wrench, no drill. It’s an incomplete toolbox. Simple as that. You cannot do something as simple as tightening up the screws on your kitchen cabinet because you only have hammers.

It’s not a bad toolbox. You might have the best hammers money can buy. But that doesn’t change the fact that you need other tools to actually have a functional toolbox. 

There’s a difference between bad and incomplete when it comes to NBA rosters.

So when I say this is the worst supporting cast LeBron has ever had, I’m not talking about talent. I’m talking on a more fundamental level than that: this team looks like it was put together by someone who literally has no idea what they’re doing. Like they know literally nothing about basketball. Like they hired somebody from like Bangladesh, where to my knowledge they aren’t really that big on hoops, to build the Lakers team. 

Why do they have Westbrook, Pat Bev and Schroeder on the same team?

Who are their wing defenders?

Where is their interior size beyond AD?

Why is Russell Westbrook still on the team when his play style is clearly incompatible with LeBron’s?

It’s a dysfunctional roster.

I like most of the players individually, but all together on the same team, it does not work at all. It’s not a functional roster.

At least his early Cleveland teams, while lacking in talent, were coherent in a basketball sense. This Lakers roster isn’t coherent at all, even when AD is healthy.

They’re able to win games consistently when AD is healthy just because of the pure greatness of LeBron and AD together, but we already know AD can’t sustain that level of play. Darvin Ham had him playing NBA Finals level minutes and intensity in the middle of December just to win games, and it resulted in AD getting hurt.

After LeBron and AD. the Lakers are without a doubt the most incoherent roster in the NBA and it’s not even close.

Why have LeBron’s assist numbers been down the past couple of seasons? I thought given what we saw from 2017-2021, that as he got older, he would gradually transition into more of a point guard distributor role. 

From 2011-2016, LeBron averaged about 6-7 assists a game. 

From 2017-2021, he started averaging like 8-9 assists per game, including 2020 when he averaged 10.3 assists a game and led the league.

However, last year he only averaged 6.2 assists per game and this season he’s only averaging 6.7.

Does it make sense that LeBron’s playmaking skills have gotten worse over the past two years? Is that a theory that makes logical sense? No it’s not. His playmaking and passing would be the last to fall off as he ages. 

If anything we should see him scoring less and dishing out more assists the older he gets, but the opposite is happening. Last year he averaged 30.3 points a game, his highest mark since 2006, and only 6.2 assists per game, his lowest mark since the 2012 season.

This is the complete opposite of what most people expected him to do. He almost won the scoring title last season for goodness sake! He was 37 years old!

And as we just went over, it doesn’t make sense to theorize that LeBron’s playmaking is slipping while his scoring ability is still as strong as ever. Something else has to be causing this. 

It’s no big secret: LeBron’s team sucks. He’s not getting as many assists because his team has no good shooters. He has to score a ton of points because his team is offensively challenged.

But this is the type of roster you have to assemble when you are paying your backup point guard $47 million a year.

You have to scrape the bargain bin to fill out your roster when you have not only LeBron and AD making max money, but also Russell Westbrook as well.

Westbrook has been okay in his 6th man role, but you cannot be paying your 6th man $47 million a year. It’s a luxury that virtually no team can afford, especially not the Lakers, who now have the poorest owner in the league.

That would be Jeanie Buss, who now after Robert Sarver’s sale of the Phoenix Suns, is the poorest owner in the NBA. Or, I guess I should say, the least rich.

The reason is that she inherited the team and all her money from her dad, the late Jerry Buss who died in 2013. I’ve already gone over in past articles how the team has been in decline since Jeanie took over in 2013, but it’s really starting to show now.

Most of the other owners in the league made their money in business and then bought teams. Dan Gilbert of the Cavs, who is worth over $20 billion, started Rocket Mortgage in 1985 and then bought the Cavaliers in 2005. He’s independently wealthy. Same with Joe Lacob, who owns the Warriors. Steve Ballmer, the Clippers owner, made billions as one of the original Microsoft guys, and then bought the Clippers in 2014. Joe Tsai was a billionaire before he bought the Nets. The guy who bought the Jazz not too long ago, Ryan Smith, is the founder of Qualtrics (and apparently owns almost everything in the state of Utah).

The guy who just bought the Suns is the founder and CEO of a mortgage company. Mickey Arison, the Heat owner, was the CEO of Carnival Cruise line before buying the team. Mark Cuban, even though he is a sleazy, fraudulent piece of shit, did amass a fortune on his own before buying the Mavericks.

Go look at the list of NBA owners, and the vast majority of them are independently wealthy businessmen who made their money before buying a basketball team.

The main exceptions are Blazers owner Jody Allen, who inherited the team from her late brother, Paul Allen (who died of cancer a few years ago and also owned the Seahawks, and was one of the Microsoft billionaires along with Steve Ballmer), Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, who inherited the team (along with the Saints) from her late husband Tom Benson, and then Jeanie Buss.

The fact that Jeanie inherited the team as opposed to buying it is not, in and of itself, the reason she is a failure as an owner, but it is a big part of it. She has no qualifications to be running a multi-billion dollar professional basketball team.

Neither do Gayle Benson or Jody Allen, but at least they have the good sense to delegate and hire good people to run the team for them. Jeanie Buss, on the other hand, only hires friends and family. Rob Pelinka is in charge of basketball operations and it’s because he was Kobe’s agent and has been part of the “Laker Family” for decades.

But Jeanie’s lack of wealth compared to other NBA owners is the root of the whole problem here. Anyone can see what the Lakers are doing this season: they’re punting on the 2023 season in order to get under the salary cap for next year, because Jeanie doesn’t have the money to pay the luxury tax.

Money is extremely important when it comes to winning. It’s no big secret why the Warriors won the Championship this year: THEY HAD A $350 MILLION PAYROLL.

Joe Lacob broke the bank to win that championship. That article I linked said they were the most expensive team in the history of North American professional sports.

Jeanie Buss, even if she wanted to, couldn’t come anywhere close to a $350 million payroll.

For goodness sake, LeBron has a higher net worth than Jeanie Buss. Imagine being a player and being richer than the owner.

Jeanie’s net worth is listed at $500 million. LeBron is a billionaire.

It feels like the Lakers’ only goal this season is to just get through it without taking on any more additional, long-term salary, then letting Westbrook’s contract expire in June, and getting under the cap. That’s all Jeanie cares about.

Obviously the problem with that is that she has LeBron James in YEAR 20, still playing at a high level, and seems to think she can just throw this season away and hope to compete in 2024, when LeBron will be in year 21.

In other words, this is not time to pinch pennies and punt on the season.

It is simply stunning that the Lakers are taking this approach despite having LeBron James in year 20 of his career–and Anthony Davis still playing at a top-5 level.

They had the option to trade Westbrook and a couple of first round picks in 2027 and 2029 for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. They could have done this before the season even started. They chose not to. Why? Because Buddy Hield’s contract doesn’t expire until 2024. They’d be tied to him for two seasons. Turner’s contract expires after this season, but I think it was the Hield contract that scared the Lakers away. They want to have as few commitments as possible come next summer.

It’s plainly evident to anyone who even glances at their contract situation:

Everyone except LeBron, AD, Damian Jones and Max Christie will be a free agent after this season.

Laker fans waited all summer for news of a big Westbrook trade to drop, but it never happened. They’ve waited all season but by this point, it seems pretty obvious that the Lakers aren’t going to make a trade. They are punting on the season.

Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka waved the white flag on the 2022-23 NBA season before it even began, even though they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis still playing at an elite level.

They have no interest in building a contending roster for this season. It has never been part of their plans.

All Jeanie Buss cares about is getting under the cap, because she is the poorest, most incompetent owner in the NBA.

This Sports Illustrated article about the Lakers’ failure of a season sums it up:

Few players can relate to what James is now enduring—as a living legend, still thriving in his twilight, yet bound to a ramshackle roster. In fact, on the most literal level, no one can truly relate. Because the bleak situation James now faces in Los Angeles is virtually unprecedented for a player of his age and caliber.

Players generally start to decline around age 32, although some all-time greats have sustained a VORP of 3.5 or higher (approximating All-Star–level production) into their late 30s. That’s happened 92 times over the last 43 seasons, per Stathead. Among those players:

  • Eighty-five made the playoffs.
  • Fifty-six made at least the second round.
  • Thirty-five made at least the conference finals.
  • Twenty made the Finals.
  • Eleven won the championship.
  • Only seven missed the playoffs, a group that includes James twice (2019, ’22), Stephen Curry (’21), Gasol (’16), Gary Payton (with Seattle in ’01), Mitch Richmond (with Sacramento in 1998) and Artis Gilmore (with Chicago in ’82).

Of that group, Curry is the only player even close to James’s stratosphere, and that 2020–21 Warriors season was a momentary aberration, with Klay Thompson missing the entire season, and both Curry and Draymond Green out for long stretches. The Warriors, of course, bounced back with a championship the next year.

But James has missed the playoffs twice in his four L.A. seasons and is on track to miss them again. And, unlike some of the others referenced above, James isn’t just among the all-time greats, but one of the greatest, period—a certified GOAT candidate—which makes every bad trade, every poor signing and every blown season that much more offensive, a sacrilege, an affront to the Basketball Gods.

Kareem never suffered this indignity while he was still performing at an elite level. Nor did Wilt, nor Magic, nor Kobe, nor Shaq. Nor did Bill Russell, nor Larry Bird, nor Duncan, nor David Robinson, nor Hakeem Olajuwon. (Nor did Michael Jordan, who was pretty ordinary in his two miserable seasons with Washington.) If they were still great, their teams were still relevant. If their teams were toast, well, it was usually because the stars were, too.

What Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka are doing to LeBron James right now is borderline criminal.

At this point I wouldn’t even be shocked if their main goal is to prevent LeBron from catching Kobe in rings.

If I didn’t know how poor and incompetent Jeanie Buss was, that would be the most logical explanation. Because it feels like outright sabotage of LeBron’s career.

You could also theorize that Jeanie is trying to punish LeBron for “making” her trade for Russell Westbrook–make him lie in the bed that he made. But LeBron was originally pushing for DeRozan, not Westbrook, in the summer of 2021. And the reason they didn’t get DeRozan is because…. Jeanie Buss couldn’t afford him.

And at any rate, even if LeBron was begging and pleading them to trade for Westbrook, they didn’t have to do it. Jeanie and Rob are in charge, not LeBron. Jeanie doesn’t have to do everything LeBron says.

No matter how you slice it, the Westbrook ultimately falls in her lap. Not even Rob Pelinka’s, because if Jeanie was not on board with it, then it wouldn’t have happened, period.

More than likely, Jeanie was thrilled to acquire Russell Westbrook, and for one main reason: because he’s from LA and he grew up a Laker fan. It was a great story.

With the right supporting cast around them LeBron and AD are a championship core. They’ve already proven it in LA. They won the NBA Championship barely two years ago (although it feels like 10 years). If LeBron and AD don’t get hurt in 2021, I think they would have had a great chance to repeat.

But then, Jeanie and Rob blew up the Championship roster in the summer of 2021, bringing in Westbrook and a bunch of ancient, washed-up veterans on the minimum contract. They even got rid of Alex Caruso. They were afraid of the Nets’ big three, so they wanted one of their own. No one can convince me otherwise.

The Nets’ big three of KD, Kyrie and Harden flamed out within like 10 months, and the Lakers were left holding the bag with Russell Westbrook. And they’re still paying for it.

It should be noted here that James missed six games early this season because of a groin injury, adding to his team’s struggles. But the Lakers were a dismal 2–9 before he went down and, well, no one around the league was particularly surprised, because team officials did nothing to upgrade the roster after going 33–49 last season. They still lack three-point shooting. They’re still thin at center. They still need perimeter defenders. And, of course, they still have Russell Westbrook, who is now thriving as the sixth man but remains a poor fit on a LeBron-centric team.

These critiques aren’t just coming from scouts and pundits.

James himself called out the shooting deficiencies on opening night, after the Lakers went 10-for-40 on threes in a loss to the Warriors. “Being completely honest, we’re not a team that’s constructed of great shooting,” he said. “That’s just the truth of the matter.” Indeed, the Lakers rank dead last in three-pointers made (9.8 per game) and second-to-last in three-point accuracy (.325).

At the 10-game mark, with the Lakers sitting at 2–8, Davis noted that his best play—and a championship—came in 2020, when Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee rotated at center, allowing Davis to roam freely on defense. “We were flying around; we were really good defensively,” he said. “It’s tough for me to do that when I’m guarding the 5.” The Lakers let both McGee and Howard leave and have struggled to fill the hole ever since.

On the same night Davis made his remarks, coach Darvin Ham went on an unusual (and unsolicited) tangent about the Lakers’ salary-cap and luxury-tax limitations, citing how much of the payroll was tied up in James, Davis and Westbrook. Intentional or not, it was yet another indictment of the Lakers’ roster construction.

The Lakers weren’t so top-heavy when they won the championship two years ago. That roster featured just two max players (James and Davis), flanked by a well-calibrated supporting cast of shooters and defenders, from Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to Danny GreenMarkieff MorrisAlex Caruso and Rajon Rondo, along with Howard and McGee. All of them are gone.

Of the 15 players involved in that 2020 postseason run, only James and Davis remain.

There is not a worse-run franchise in American sports. Not one.

Because a lot of bad franchises, the issue for them is they don’t have superstar talent. That’s why they don’t win.

But the Lakers have the greatest basketball player of all time and a guy who is easily a top-10 player, arguably top-5.

And they still can’t win.

The SI article comes to the same conclusion I have come to: no version of LeBron James could turn this roster into a winner.

Even peak-years LeBron—who dragged a nondescript Cavaliers roster to the Finals in 2007, and repeated the feat in ’18—would be powerless with this Lakers team.

When James signed a two-year extension in August—committing him through the 2024–25 season—he did so with assurances the Lakers would do whatever was necessary to improve the roster, even if it meant trading future first-round picks. But team officials have been extremely reluctant to part with those picks —a position that’s irritated James and his camp, as Chris Haynes of Turner Sports reported last month.

2007 Bron, 2009 Bron, 2013 Bron, 2016 Bron, 2018 Bron, 2020 Bron–it wouldn’t matter.

It is not possible for any player to turn this roster into a winner. It’s the worst constructed roster in the league by a mile.

So what does the SI article say about “the plan” here? How do Jeanie and Rob plan to turn this around?

Get ready for it: BRADLEY BEAL!!!!!!

Yet sources around the league believe that Lakers officials, led by Pelinka, are holding out hope for a revival, and holding on to the draft picks in the hope they can parlay them into a bigger prize, such as the Wizards’ Bradley Beal.

These morons never learn.

They think it’s 2012 and all you need are three superstar players surrounded by vet minimum guys.

They are the only front office in the league that hasn’t yet realized the age of the “Big Three” is over. It’s done.

This is because shooting is more important than ever before, and you cannot get shooters for vet minimum deals anymore. It’s just not possible.

The days of signing guys like Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mike Miller to paltry contracts and shoring up your three point shooting on the cheap are over.

Any player that can shoot the three is commanding a premium on the open market.

Why don’t the Lakers have any shooting? It’s blindingly obvious: because they have three max contracts on their team and can’t afford any shooters.

They couldn’t afford to bring back Malik Monk. He’s making $9.4 million a year now with the Kings.

The Lakers could not afford any of the decent shooters in the 2022 free agent class. Donte Divincenzo makes over $9 mil a year, Bruce Brown makes over $13 mil a year. Patty Mills makes $13 mil a year. Joe Ingles got $6.5 million a year with a torn ACL.

There was no shooter out there on the free agent market that the Lakers could afford over the summer, because they are sitting on three max contracts and virtually no cap space. Any guy they sign has to be making the vet minimum, or in Lonnie Walker’s case, the midlevel exception.

And now Jeanie and Rob want to swap out Russell Westbrook’s $47 million contract for Bradley Beal’s $50 million contract.

Would Beal be a better fit than Westbrook? Definitely.

But is a third superstar the missing piece to the Lakers’ puzzle? Absolutely not.

They need 3&D guys and they need interior size.

They don’t need Bradley Beal. They need guys who can defend the perimeter, knock down threes, and they need big men who can patrol the paint and allow AD to play the way he wants–which is to say, roaming the floor and using his length and athleticism to its fullest potential.

Making yet another blockbuster trade, this time for Bradley Beal, would be idiotic, but unfortunately very on-brand for Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka.

I wrote almost a year ago, before the disastrous 2022 season was even finished, that LeBron needed to get the hell out of LA and go back to the Miami Heat. I’m now even more adamant in that belief. Cleveland has Donovan Mitchell and it seems like the door is pretty much shut for LeBron to go back to the Cavs. I don’t think he should go to a new city; he should go play for Miami again.

LeBron doesn’t have time to mess around with an incompetent ownership group.

In Miami, with Pat Riley running the show, he can just ball. That’s it–just play basketball. Pat Riley will make sure he has a great roster around him, and put him in position to win as many championships as he can while he’s still a great player.

A move to Miami would have to be facilitated by a trade, now that LeBron has extended his contract, but given Jeanie and Rob love their stupid little draft picks so much, it would seem that offering them a few first round draft picks would be a great place to start off negotiations.

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