Reports have been coming out of Los Angeles indicating that LeBron James is not happy with the Lakers—and it could lead to war.
Throughout the 2021-22 season, there’s been rumors emanating from the Lakers locker room and front office about tension within the organization. The leaks range from the potential replacement of Frank Vogel with Kurt Rambis to LeBron’s discontent with the organization due to his limiting contract.
While many mid-season rumblings are just that, the notion that LeBron is unsatisfied with his place on the Lakers appears to hold water. Aside from “a series of passive-aggressive missives from James that make it clear he was frustrated by the Lakers inaction at the trade deadline”, The Athletic’s Bill Oram detailed how the current situation in L.A. is more akin to war than peace.
“The situation is tense enough that one source close to the Lakers likened it to the early days of a war,” Oram said. “So far, the Lakers haven’t shown a particular willingness to engage in battle with their superstar, with sources saying that Pelinka has insisted internally that there are no hard feelings between the two sides.”
Even if Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is amicable towards LeBron James, the situation is, at the very least, “a one-sided war,” according to Oram. “By digging their heels in and not giving James everything that he wants has the potential to be received as a form of aggression — a battle tactic in its own right.”
Lakers-LeBron tension likened to “the early days of war”
While a comparison to war and battle may seem egregious, it’s important to note that historically, the dynamic between two political groups shifts as two sides vie for power or territory. Whether it’s land or ideology, war begins when one entity feels entitled to the sovereignty of another.
In this case, it’s the decorated superstar wanting more control of the Los Angeles franchise. While the Lakers have rostered a long list of superstars, James’ “dream team” approach is still different from the way that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal built championship teams in L.A. The Lakers have catered to LeBron’s desired trades, but at the trade deadline, the team leaned conservative as their bold Russell Westbrook trade severely limited them.
For now, Pelinka and the Lakers are doing damage control as they attempt to veer the situation away from a power struggle. There does not seem to be the “alignment” Pelinka assures is taking place, nor does there seem to be a situation where LeBron would remain content without the right team built around him. And as James has made abundantly clear, any team that wants him in the future is going to need to draft his son, Bronny James.