The Los Angeles Lakers have had a complicated season. On the one hand, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been healthy enough to play in 45 and 47 of their first 51 games, but on the other hand, they’re just 26-25. If James and Davis were underperforming, explaining the Lakers’ struggles would be easy, but unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, the pair have been excellent. James is ninth in the league in box plus/minus at 6.0, and Davis is 17th at 5.0. They’re the only pair of teammates to have played 40 or more games and be in the top 20 of BPM, and usually, that’s a recipe for on-court success.
Are the Lakers and LeBron headed for a breakup?
When teams fail to meet expectations, change is always around the corner, and the Lakers are no strangers to mid-season roster reconstruction. Just last season, the Lakers were 25-31 before they swung a deadline day trade that turned Russell Westbrook into Jarred Vanderbilt, D’Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley. The overhaul saved their season, as they sprinted to an 18-8 finish and captured the seventh seed in the West through the play-in.
While the Lakers’ mid-season makeover paid dividends right away, the tenor this season is different. Instead of rumors of reinforcements, which there are quite a few, these Lakers have also had to deal with rumors of a James trade.
James has unequivocally had the greatest career in NBA history, and since his debut in 2003-04, no team has ever considered trading him. Even in his 21st season, James is still a top-ten player in the league and has the juice to be the best player on a contender. So what are the ramifications should the Lakers decide to move one of the greatest players in the history of the sport?
Con No. 1 for the Lakers to consider trading LeBron James: Offensive ineptitude
While it’s true that LeBron James isn’t the singular offensive force he once was, he is still vital to the Lakers having a competent offense. The Lakers’ offensive rating of 114.1 is 20th in the NBA, but without James, they are a bottom-five unit.
With James on the court, the Lakers have an offensive rating of 117.2, a figure that would rank 15th in the league and above the league average of 115.9, but when he sits, it craters to 110.9. The ramifications of moving James would take a bad offense and make them putrid.
The Lakers are allowed to take a step back if they see fit, but the on-court product would take a massive hit without James. Part of the appeal of the Lakers is they’re in the entertainment capital of the world, but that also means their local competition for attention is far fiercer. As much as some people bemoan how offensive-leaning the NBA has become, for the casual fan, offensive efficiency is a whole lot more entertaining than a mid-2000s rock fight.