Even if LeBron James decides against signing a contract extension this offseason, the Lakers and team owner Jeanie Buss wouldn’t view that as a reason to consider trading him, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic.
James, whose contract expires after the 2022/23 season, has the ability to tack on two more years (and $97MM) to his current deal when he becomes extension-eligible later this year, but Amick previously reported that the superstar forward may be leaning toward passing on that extension and once again taking a year-to-year approach.
If that’s what James decides, the Lakers would fine with it, as long as their relationship with the 37-year-old remains in a good place, says Amick. Should LeBron become discontented, the team’s approach could change, but if his “level of trust and happiness” with the organization remains high, a trade is off the table.
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- Frank Vogel‘s inability to get the most out of Russell Westbrook this season was a factor in the Lakers’ decision to fire the head coach, according to Amick, who speculates that the club may be open to hanging onto Westbrook and giving another coach a shot to make the experiment work — especially if the front office can’t find any appealing Westbrook deals on the trade market.
- Although Phil Jackson is advising the Lakers on their head coaching search and is believed to be a fan of Westbrook’s, he has zero interest in coaching L.A. (or any other team) himself, sources tell Amick.
- Speaking of Jackson, there are “powerful people close to the Lakers” who don’t love the fact that the Hall-of-Fame coach has input in major decisions despite not having a formal role with the organization, says Amick.
- Appearing on the “Certified Buckets” podcast, Lakers assistant Phil Handy said he believes he’d be capable of coaching an NBA team, as Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News relays. “I am definitely at that point now to where I know I’m ready to be a head coach,” Handy said. “I’m ready to take on my own team and direct the ship in that fashion.” The Lakers, of course, are in the market for a new head coach, but there has been no indication so far that Handy is receiving serious consideration for the job.