Has LeBron Finally Reached His Breaking Point with the Lakers Front Office?

He’s had enough:

His numbers are great but the real telling stat is that the Lakers are +64 when he’s on the floor and -68 when he’s off over the last 9 games. So basically they squander whatever lead he’s built every time he goes to the bench–and in only 1/3 of the minutes it took him to get the lead in the first place!

It took LeBron 354 minutes to build up a +64 scoring margin, and only 124 minutes for his teammates to blow that lead–and then some! He should not have to be dealing with this shit in year 20.

Here’s his the main quote:

“I think about the day to day, how we get better throughout the course of this season, how we get better game to game. I think about how much longer I’m gonna play the game.

I don’t want to finish my career playing at this level, from a team aspect. I’m still able to compete for championships, because I know what I can still bring to any ball club with the right pieces.”

See what he said there? “What I can still bring to ANY BALL CLUB WITH THE RIGHT PIECES.”

He’s already thinking about leaving the Lakers. That was a loud and clear message to the front office: y’all are wasting me, I’m not going to sit around here and waste the rest of my career.

LeBron knows what he’s saying. He chose his words carefully. The question he was asked wasn’t even about what he ended up talking about. He made a point to say what he said.

He’s letting Rob and Jeanie know that he’s very much considering leaving. He is unable to be traded this year but in the off-season, it is now a very real possibility.

In this next question he was asked about how long he plans to play, specifically about Dennis Schroder saying that LeBron told him he wants to play until he’s 45.

LeBron said he will play as long as his mind is in it, basically as long as he still has a passion for the game.

Translation = I’d rather retire than keep missing the playoffs with this sorry-ass roster.

Then he went on to talk about how he’s a winner and wants to compete for championships, and basically that he is not going to tolerate playing on a bad team that doesn’t have a chance to win a championship.

He has every right to feel this way and to say these things.

In the two games after making these remarks, LeBron had led the Lakers to two straight wins. Yesterday night against the Hornets, he had 43-11-6 on 16/26 shooting. On Friday night, his 38th birthday, against the Hawks in Atlanta, he had 47-10-9 on 18/27 shooting. I don’t think it was a coincidence that his two best games of the year followed him making those remarks.

(Also, for all the people who are convinced LeBron is the GM of the team: why haven’t they made a move yet then? If LeBron is the GM of the Lakers, then don’t you think he would’ve already made a big trade?)

No player who has accomplished what he has accomplished, and who is still as great as he is in year 20, should ever have to be in a situation where his talents are being wasted.

Michael Jordan was competing for and winning Championships until the very end in Chicago. The front office for the Bulls put Championship-level talent around him all the way up through 1998. They were all-in on him.

Tim Duncan competed for Championships until the very end. Same with Kareem.

Unfortunately we’ve seen a lot of other all-time greats waste away in irrelevance in the twilight years of their careers. Kobe, thanks to Jeanie Buss, was in a horrible situation for his last 3-4 years. Dirk was on some bad Mavericks teams for the last few years.

But that’s when those guys were far past their primes.

LeBron is still playing at an elite level. And the Lakers front office is treating him like he has nothing left in the tank.

Or perhaps like he still has a lot in the tank: they are taking for granted the fact that he’s in year 20 and still an elite player. They think he’ll be able to maintain this level of play for years to come. Maybe so. But still, why would they be taking him for granted? You can compete for a championship, so do it.

What the Lakers are doing now isn’t just wrong because LeBron is in year 20; it would be wrong even if he were in year 4. When you have an elite player, you do everything you can to build a championship team around him. No exceptions.

So now we get the first confirmation that he is not happy with the way things are going with this team. He is not content to just waste his remaining years not competing for a championship.

It’s about time. It’s what LeBron Stans have been waiting for. And Laker fans as well: they want to see their team compete, damnit. They are pissed that Rob and Jeanie are wasting LeBron’s 20th season.

But Laker fans also have to know that this could be the beginning of the end of LeBron in LA. This might end with him being traded. And if that happens, the Lakers are screwed. Because as long as Jeanie owns the team it will always be terrible.

On second thought, the Lakers are already terrible with LeBron, so it won’t make much of a difference if he’s traded away, will it? The only difference is that LeBron represents hope that maybe they can win a championship if they just get a good supporting cast around him. Without LeBron they have no hope.

This is how bad Jeanie and Rob are: they are so incompetent that they can’t even make the playoffs with LeBron. No player in league history has done more with less, and carried more weak teams to the playoffs, than LeBron. And they can’t even put a playoff roster around him in a league where 20 of the 30 teams make the postseason.

That is just staggering incompetence and malpractice. But it’s LeBron’s reality now, and thus you get him saying the stuff above.

LeBron has been one of the unluckiest superstar players in league history.

He got drafted by the Cavaliers, one of the worst franchises in the league at the time, and never had the supporting cast necessary to win a Championship during his first stint there.

So he left and went to a team where they had the talent, and where they had a highly-competent front office that was able to build a championship team, Miami.

LeBron could’ve stayed in Miami for his entire career, and he probably would have more Championships than he has now. Because even though D-Wade and Bosh were declining by 2014, Pat Riley would have figured out a way to rebuild that roster on the fly around LeBron and continue competing for championships. Miami is a major free agent destination and the Heat would have been back to contending status in no time.

But LeBron left Miami because in large part he felt like he had to set things right in Cleveland. Unfinished business. Yes, Wade and Bosh were in decline, but I think LeBron was always planning on going back to Cleveland, because that’s home for him.

He won the Championship for Cleveland in 2016, and by the time he went back there in 2014, the organization had really leveled up in terms of talent and overall competence in the front office. Players wanted to join LeBron, and it seemed like it would be a great situation for him to ride out the remainder of his career, with Kyrie and Kevin Love.

Unfortunately, KD’s move to the Warriors ruined everything, and eventually Kyrie demanded a trade (a move which he later admitted he regrets). LeBron left the Cavs after one last shot at a championship without Kyrie, but the KD Warriors were just too much. LeBron went to the Lakers once he realized things were about played-out in Cleveland. Additionally, he wanted to settle down in Los Angeles for both family and business reasons.

I’m sure LeBron envisioned himself retiring in LA as recently as a year ago, or maybe even a few months ago, but unfortunately for him he’s never been able to find a real home in the NBA. Jeanie Buss’ unparalleled incompetence has resulted in LeBron’s years 19 and 20 being wasted, and I think he knows he has to leave the Lakers if he wants to keep competing for championships.

LeBron probably imagined being on the Lakers would be like it was when Kobe was there, when Shaq was there, when Magic and Kareem were there: stability, non-stop winning, great coaches, star power. He probably imagined there would be no better place to finish out his career, because the Lakers are an attractive free agent destination and historically one of the most winning franchises in the league.

Nope. Not anymore. Because Jerry Buss passed away, and now Jeanie Buss is running things. The Lakers as everyone had come to know them from 1980 until the early 2010s–that version of the Lakers no longer exists. That version of the Lakers died when Jerry Buss died in 2013. This is the Jeanie Buss Lakers now, aka the most poorly-run franchise in American sports.

LeBron is literally out there playing with a starting five of himself, Pat Bev, Dennis Schroder, Lonnie Walker and Thomas Bryant.

There is no superstar player in the league that has a supporting cast anywhere near that bad.

Kobe was drafted to a team that had Shaq and was ready to win championships early. And they did win championships–three of them in a row. When Shaq left after the 2004 season, and the Lakers were bad, and Kobe demanded a trade, the Lakers went out and got him Pau Gasol so that he could compete for championships again. And he won two more.

Michael Jordan’s Bulls had a highly competent front office that built excellent rosters around him, and always made the right moves to compete for championships. When Jordan came back in 1995, and the Bulls went to the playoffs and lost to the Magic in the second round, what did Jerry Krause do in response? He went out and got Dennis Rodman, because the Bulls were missing that down-low rebounding presence after Horace Grant’s departure following the 1993 season. Michael, like Kobe, was fortunate to have Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history.

Magic Johnson was drafted by a team that had Kareem, plus Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper and Jamaal Wilkes. The Lakers were good enough to win a Championship in Magic’s rookie season. Sure, he was a big part of that, but he landed in a great situation. Eventually the Lakers would add James Worthy and other pieces like Byron Russell to ensure they were able to compete for championships for over a decade–the entirety of Magic Johnson’s career. Magic also had one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Pat Riley.

Tim Duncan was fortunate to land with the San Antonio Spurs, who already had David Robinson and a man who is now known as one of the greatest head coaches in NBA history, Gregg Popovich. The Spurs acquired Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and then later Kawhi Leonard, to ensure Tim Duncan was able to compete for Championships for essentially his entire career. Tim Duncan won a Championship in 1999, his second year in the NBA, and in 2014, his third-to-last season. And of course they won three additional Championships in between 1999 and 2014. Certainly the Spurs had their ups and downs–they didn’t make the NBA Finals once between 2008-2012–but they were always able to retool and rebuild on the fly to make sure Tim Duncan always had a high quality roster around him for basically his entire 19 year career.

Look at Steph Curry: he landed in Golden State, with a front office that has always been able to surround him championship-level talent; he has the best coach in the NBA in Steve Kerr, and the Warriors ownership has always been willing to spend as much money as it takes to win. The 2022 Championship team was a $346 million roster, the most expensive in the history of American sports, and their owner, Joe Lacob, paid a $170 million luxury tax bill because he wanted to win a championship. Meanwhile, Jeanie Buss wouldn’t even dip into the luxury tax to pay Alex Caruso. Steph Curry has led an incredibly charmed NBA life from the perspective of coaching and front office. For goodness sake, the Warriors front office was able to plan for and navigate the salary cap spike of 2016 to be able to afford Kevin Durant. That’s a Pat Riley-level move.

LeBron has only ever had that stability and competence in the front office during his 4 years in Miami. He had Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, and it was amazing. Otherwise, he’s had to largely overcome his own team’s front office. He’s never been able to “just ball” like a lot of these other superstars have. He’s had to leverage the threat of leaving in order to cajole his front offices into making needed personnel moves. He’s always had to worry about more than just playing basketball, because other than the Miami years, he’s never really been able to trust that his front office is doing everything it possibly can to build the best team.

And outside of the Miami years with Spo, as well as the three years in Cleveland with Ty Lue, LeBron has never had an all-time great coach like a Popovich, or a Pat Riley, or a Phil Jackson, or a Steve Kerr. He’s had guys like Paul Silas, Mike Brown, David Blatt, Luke Walton, Frank Vogel and Darvin Ham. When the Lakers had the option to hire Ty Lue for LeBron in 2019, they low-balled him and he ended up taking the Clippers job.

Look, even if you absolutely hate LeBron James and are as dishonest and unfair to him as possible, you cannot look me in the eye and tell me that the Lakers front office has not botched this thing to smithereens the past two years. That Rob and Jeanie have not fumbled the bag epically.

Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss have LeBron James and Anthony Davis and they can’t even make the playoffs.

Do you understand how pathetically incompetent you have to be to do that?

“Well AD gets hurts all the time!”

Maybe if they actually had a competent roster to take some of the pressure off of him so he doesn’t have to be playing NBA Finals minutes on a nightly basis in December. They are running him into the ground because they have no choice: they will lose if they don’t. The game before he got hurt, the OT game against Boston, AD played over 46 minutes. Take out his 5 minutes of OT and he still played 41 of 48 minutes in regulation.

You cannot tell me that if the Warriors front office, or the Heat front office, or the Celtics front office, or the Spurs front office, or even the Clippers front office, had LeBron James and Anthony Davis, that they would not be dominating the league.

Even if I grant you that LeBron marched into Jeanie Buss’ office and demanded that she make Rob Pelinka trade for Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2021, do you think if he did that to Bob Myers or Pat Riley, that they would oblige him?

Pat Riley would tell him no. Myers would tell him no. Brad Stevens would tell him no.

None of those guys would’ve made the Westbrook trade no matter how much LeBron allegedly wanted it.

My hunch is that Jeanie Buss was enthusiastically on board with it for one reason: because Westbrook is from Los Angeles and she wanted the heartwarming storyline of the local kid playing for the Lakers. She thought it would be popular with the fans to have a hometown superstar in purple and gold. It would’ve been popular if he were actually good at basketball.

But here’s the thing: the LeBron haters don’t even have the Westbrook trade to hang on anymore. Because Westbrook is not the problem for this team. He’s been playing a bit better this season. The real problem for this Laker team is that they have like 7 point guards, no small forwards, and only one playable center outside of Anthony Davis.

It’s LeBron, AD, Thomas Bryant and a bunch of guys under 6’4″.

And by the way, Thomas Bryant has been excellent:

Troy Brown and JTA are showing some encouraging signs as of late, which really helps with perimeter size, but the real problem with the Lakers roster isn’t Russell Westbrook. His contract may have been what prevented them from signing the players they need to build a competent roster.

But LeBron didn’t make them trade Stanley Johnson (a wing defender with size) for Pat Beverley when they already had Westbrook. And then they signed Dennis Schroder after the Pat Bev trade.

With a competent front office, the Lakers would be the best team in the league. Not a doubt in my mind. With a core of LeBron and AD, all you have to do is find wing defenders who can shoot, and a rim protector to allow AD to play the 4.

The Lakers even had this formula in place in 2020, and they won a Championship with it. They had Dwight Howard and Javale McGee to play the 5 and allow AD to play the 4. They had Alex Caruso and Danny Green and KCP as 3&D guys. They had Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris for perimeter length. They had Rajon Rondo to play backup point guard so they had a floor general with high IQ when LeBron went to the bench.

They had the same core in 2021, although they lost Howard and McGee, as well as Danny Green and Rondo. Still, the Lakers were able to make the playoffs that year even though LeBron and AD were both hurt for a good chunk of the regular season.

And then, for whatever reason, the Lakers just panicked in the summer of 2021 and decided to blow up the roster to trade for Russell Westbrook. Probably, they were worried about the Brooklyn Nets’ big three of KD, Kyrie and James Harden, and felt they needed a third superstar to be able to compete with them in the Finals.

The Lakers have never recovered from that move.

Again, it isn’t Russell Westbrook that is the problem. He’s been okay this year, maybe a little better than last year, but the key point is that he himself is not the reason they’re losing games.

It’s his contract that is screwing everything up. You cannot be paying your Sixth Man $47 million a year. You just can’t. The Lakers do not have roster talent to be paying a Sixth Man that much money. They don’t have that luxury.

They had the opportunity in the offseason to trade Westbrook and some picks for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. They chose not to do it, and it will probably cost them a chance to go to the playoffs this year. It probably means they have wasted yet another year of LeBron’s career, because I don’t see them making a move by the deadline. They will say that the team is hopeless with or without a trade, even though it’s only hopeless because they made it that way.

If the Lakers do not turn this around in the offseason, LeBron is out of there. He will tell them to trade him, and they will have no choice but to do it.

He will not waste a third season with morons like Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka. He thought they were going to fix things for this season, and they haven’t. And now he’s fed up with their B.S.

Here are the top free agents that will or might be on the market this summer.

It seems likely LeBron and Draymond will team up in some way shape or form next season. The Lakers will have to land at least one or two of the names on this list, as a starting point, in order to have any chance at competing.

If they don’t, I think LeBron will pull the plug and demand the trade.

LeBron is making it 100% clear that he is not going to waste another season doing this.

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