We are slowly finding out how tense the situation was in Los Angeles due to the Anthony Davis fiasco at the end of the trade period. Despite Jeannie Buss saying the reporting around that time was “fake news“, multiple outlets reported everyone except LeBron was on the table. It seems they were wrong in one detail. (via Bleacher Report)
The subject of moving James, however, was contemplated by the Lakers, a team source said, weeks before Van Gundy aired it. When rumors engulfed the team at the February trade deadline that it was willing to trade anyone other than James to acquire All-Star forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, James’ agent, Rich Paul, was widely accused of spreading those rumors because Davis is also one of his clients. Paul denied to B/R that he leaked the Lakers’ interest in Davis, but Buss suspected otherwise and was furious. The idea of terminating the franchise’s relationship with Paul by moving James at least crossed Buss’ mind, the team source said, and Paul was made aware of that. That prompted Paul to reach out to Buss to clear the air, and whatever ill will existed supposedly dissipated. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a few weeks later, Buss blamed the media for making the rumors public.
We don’t know for sure to which extent Buss considered this, but one thing is sure. The Lakers are becoming frustrated with LeBron and it is only Year 1. This is connected to something Brian Windhorst pointed out in one of the recent “Hoop Collective” podcasts. LeBron is a master at influencing moves, but not taking any responsibility for it. He will push the organization and let them take the heat if it blows up.
If Buss did have such a conversation with Rich Paul, it might have been a way to let them, Paul and LeBron, know that such actions will not be tolerated in LakerLand anymore. At that same panel at the Sloan conference, Buss did admit the rumors had a very negative effect on their locker room and the performance of the team.
She did misguide her criticism towards the media reporting on it and implying it was “fake news” certainly didn’t help the Lakers standing around the Association. You can understand she won’t direct it towards LeBron and Paul, but there was no need to go that far with the media.
The alternative is that she actually considered trading LeBron, in which case she wouldn’t get as much as you’d think. Widely considered the best player in the league, LeBron’s reputation isn’t dwindling with superstars, but it seems more and more GMs would prefer not to have him in their organization. The sentiment is owners would love to have him, GMs not so much.
Tells you a lot on his effect on organizations.