Is LeBron James, the NBA’s New Scoring King, on His Way Out of LA?

LeBron James headed for greener pastures?

Now that LeBron James has broken Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA scoring record, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: his future in Los Angeles.

the Los Angeles Lakers are just 25-30 and 13th in the Western Conference

The King has been vocal lately that he believes he can continue to compete at a high level for at least the next couple of years. He is also averaging 33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists since turning 38 years old, yet the Los Angeles Lakers are just 25-30 and 13th in the Western Conference.

LeBron has made it well-known that he wants to be competing for championships. A mismanaged roster, a head coach in his first season as the top dog, and an uninterested front office could all be motivations for him to leave the City of Angels if he is serious about his goal.

Present circumstances

There have been a few constants in LeBron‘s championship runs: three-point shooting teammates, experienced role players that compete hard, a co-star that can play on or off the ball, and solid defenders. The Lakers struggle to check any of those boxes.

the season when Davis was the healthiest was the year the Lakers won the title

The unwavering positive LeBron has had throughout the past few years is teammate Anthony Davis, who had a case that he was the MVP of the Lakers’ 2020 championship run. Davis has missed 132 of 301 (43.9%) regular-season games since showing up in L.A., though, which is a major problem. It’s also no surprise that the season when Davis was the healthiest was the year the Lakers won the title.

Even Davis, however, is beginning to look fed up with the Lakers. He barely acknowledged LeBron’s record-setting shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night.

This season, the front office has done an especially poor job creating an environment conducive to winning. Only one member of the team’s regular rotation, Thomas Bryant, is shooting above 37.3% from three-point land, and he has only attempted 50 threes in 41 games. That is despite shooters getting more breathing space than they normally would because the spacing of the offense is so off.

On top of that, only LeBron (47) and Davis (28) rank in the top 50 for individual defensive rating. The former is a 38-year-old man with nearly 13,000 more minutes played than the next-closest active NBA player, and the latter has missed over 43% of his team’s games.

Even worse, only three members of the Lakers’ regular rotation have a positive plus/minus this season: LeBron, Davis, and undrafted second-year player Austin Reaves. It’s not hard to look around the league or in a history book to find out this is not the composition of a winning franchise.

Reason to leave

The Lakers have had chances to bolster their roster. To their credit, they traded the underperforming Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards to Rui Hachimura, who has been a nice addition. However, they have been unwilling to pull the trigger on several bigger deals.

According to reports, L.A. could have acquired Myles Turner and Buddy Hield from the Indiana Pacers earlier in the season. They passed on that opportunity to hold out for a star to become available, and then when one (Kyrie Irving) did, they struck out again.

The growing roster concerns could force LeBron—if he truly wants to compete for championships—to walk out the door this summer. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement bars him from being traded this year because of the contract extension he signed over the summer, but that blockade will fade in the coming offseason.

LeBron is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2024

As it stands, LeBron is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2024, which is the same year his oldest son would be eligible for the NBA draft. LeBron has promised that he will team up with his son when he makes it to the NBA, meaning the pair will arrive as a package deal.

Before that happens, other teams could be interested in acquiring his services. Betting odds from last summer highlighted the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, both of whom James previously suited up for, as potential landing spots. The Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, and the young Oklahoma City Thunder were also mentioned as possibilities.

There are 27 games left in the Lakers’ season. They are two games out of the play-in and four games out of the six seed at the time of writing.



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