Rich Paul shuts down trade rumors, says LeBron James is 'committed' to Lakers

LeBron James is committed to the Los Angeles Lakers ... for now.

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers stood pat at the NBA trade deadline, instead waiting for the buyout market to develop. Spencer Dinwiddie rewarded the Lakers' patience, but little did we know, the Lakers were approached about a potential blockbuster. And no, we don't mean Dejounte Murray.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Golden State Warriors called the Lakers about a potential LeBron James trade. Golden State GM Mike Dunleavy Jr. even spoke to Rich Paul, James' Klutch Sports agent, about the 39-year-old's frame of mind after LeBron's ominous hourglass emoji tweet took the internet by storm.

Ultimately, Paul expressed James' commitment to Los Angeles — a stance he reiterated in an appearance on The Stephen A. Smith Show.

"He's committed to the Lakers. Jeanie [Buss] has been an incredible partner for him and us, and I think it's important for that to be understood and to be respected. Obviously there's ups and downs and emotions throughout the course of a season, but ultimately, LeBron's committed to the Lakers."

Rich Paul reaffirms LeBron James' commitment to Lakers

Of course, it's easy to affirm a player's commitment once the trade deadline has passed. But, James is a free agent this summer and James recently told reporters he doesn't know what will happen after the season ends. The job of Paul and Klutch Sports is to maintain James' power over the situation. Klutch will dance carefully around any sort of long-term commitment, as that would harm James' bargaining power and his potential to push the front office toward blockbuster moves.

We know the Lakers are open to drafting Bronny James in order to keep his father happy. And, we know the Lakers will do everything in their power to keep James around. That could include a major trade, with Trae Young currently being floated as a popular offseason target for Los Angeles.

In the end, James has planted deep roots in Los Angeles. His son is at USC; his other son plays high school ball in the area. He has worked on several movie projects in Hollywood and L.A. is the perfect business hub for an entrepreneur of James' ilk. The Lakers are the prestige basketball franchise. No matter how poorly managed the roster is, there is an undeniable and unshakable appeal to playing there. At least for some.

Next season will mark James' 22nd NBA campaign, assuming he doesn't shock the world with a retirement. The Lakers clearly want to have him around, but other options exist. The Warriors have Stephen Curry at a boatload of trade assets. The New York Knicks are located in another hot business district. And, if James truly wants to maximize his chances to win, the Philadelphia 76ers will have the cap space to sign James outright next to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

The options are plentiful. That said, when push comes to shove, all signs point to James sticking it out in Los Angeles and hoping the Lakers can land another star to complement him and Anthony Davis.

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