Los Angeles Lakers: Stephen A. Smith Calls for LA to Trade LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tough spot.

That’s actually the understatement of the century; the Lakers are going nowhere and need to overhaul their organization if they want to win another championship.

So, how can they do that? Well, aside from actually figuring out their power structure (why is Kurt Rambis getting any say within the franchise?), LA can start by changing its roster.

The issue with that is Anthony Davis’ trade value isn’t all that high given how injury prone he has been throughout his career. Russell Westbrook also has one year left on his current deal (as long as he picks up his 2022-23 player option), so Los Angeles might have to wait to part ways with him, considering it will probably be hard to find a team willing to pay Russ over $47 million next season.

OK, but what about LeBron James? Since he actually has significant value, should the Lakers consider trading The King? Stephen A. Smith thinks so.

Stephen A. Smith thinks the Lakers should trade LeBron James

ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. Smith belies LA needs to trade James.
(L-R) Stephen A. Smith and LeBron James | Stacy Revere/Getty Images; Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

LeBron James has one year left on his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Due to the Lakers being such a mess and missing the NBA Play-In Tournament this past season, no one would blame him for leaving LA next summer.

So, if the Lakers don’t want to risk their future and lose James for nothing, they could consider trading him for younger assets.

Of course, that means parting ways with your best player, but Stephen A. Smith thinks they should do it.

“I think the Los Angeles Lakers should strongly consider trading LeBron James,” he said on the May 4 episode of First Take. “…This is not throwing a speck of shade on LeBron James. … It’s a testament to his greatness, and it’s a compliment to him that I’m saying this is what the Los Angeles Lakers should consider.”

Smith then explained how Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis both have little to no trade value. He also discussed how this current roster is unlikely to compete for championships anytime soon.

So, why wouldn’t you try to get assets for LeBron?

“He’s the only person that has extreme value. … It’s the only chance you have to be immediately respectable if you’re the Los Angeles Lakers,” he said before listing the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trail Blazers as teams LA can potentially call. “… If I’m the Lakers, I know I ain’t going nowhere. What I gotta do, is prevent from falling off the cliff entirely and completely stinking up the joint for years to come. … If you got a team that says, ‘I’m willing to sacrifice my youth; I’m willing to sacrifice picks to make a two-year run at a title,’ (the Lakers should consider it).”

Would the Lakers really trade LeBron James?

Whether you agree with the idea or not, Stephen A. Smith made excellent points. Trading LeBron James would help the Lakers build for their future since they could lose him for nothing next year anyway.

But would they do it? Well, they reportedly haven’t told him anything about their coaching search, so that could be a strong indication that they are planning for life without him.

The only issue with moving James is finding a trade partner. Will anyone want to give up their young talent for someone approaching 40? The four-time MVP will also be a free agent in 2023, so a team could sign him next summer (if it has the cap space) and not give up any of its valuable assets.

For the Lakers, this idea makes all the sense in the world. But it’s hard to imagine any other teams jumping on board. LeBron James’ future in LA is in question, but he likely still has at least one more year in Hollywood left.

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