At the end of last month, Lakers forward LeBron James sent out an hourglass emoji on social media that led to plenty of speculation — and eventually an unsuccessful trade pursuit by the Warriors. Later that week in New York, James made some not-so-subtle comments about his love for playing in Madison Square Garden and said he considered signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 2010.
While James may have been attempting to put pressure on L.A.’s front office by using New York as leverage, the Knicks haven’t had any internal discussions about pursuing him this summer, a league source tells Sam Amick, Anthony Slater and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
As The Athletic’s authors explain, the Knicks won’t have cap room in free agency to make a run at James if he declines his $51.4MM player option, and shedding salaries would mean parting with important rotation players. The Knicks view that possibility as a “serious setback to their long-term plan.”
Los Angeles, meanwhile, has no desire to trade James, and wants him to retire a Laker, multiple team sources tell The Athletic. For his part, James recently informed the team’s brass he wants to stay, per The Athletic’s report.
Here’s more on the Lakers, all from Amick, Slater and Buha:
- Rival executives have become “increasingly convinced” that the 39-year-old superstar may want out of L.A., and view drafting his son Bronny James as something of a starting point to pursuing LeBron, according to The Athletic’s trio. James has spoken many times over the years about his desire to play in the NBA with his son. The Lakers are also open to the possibility of adding Bronny to keep LeBron happy, as that’s a priority for the organization, a high-ranking team source tells the authors.
- According to The Athletic, James has long been in favor of adding a star-level ball-handler in the backcourt — hence 2021 trade for Russell Westbrook, which obviously worked out poorly. James pushed the front office to pursue Kyrie Irving over multiple transaction windows in the past, and supported the idea of trading for Dejounte Murray (Hawks) or Zach LaVine (Bulls) — two fellow Klutch clients — prior to this season’s deadline, sources tell Amick, Slater and Buha.
- The Lakers will have three first-round picks available to trade this summer after standing pat at the deadline — either 2024 or 2025 (New Orleans can acquire this year’s pick or defer it to next year), plus 2029 and 2031. As Buha previously reported, L.A. would ideally like to use those draft assets for Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers), Trae Young (Hawks) or Irving (Mavericks), though it’s unclear how many of those players – if any – will actually be available on the trade market this offseason. For what it’s worth, rival teams have been speculating that Atlanta might be willing to part with Young after holding onto Murray at the deadline.