Is LeBron James Ready to Leave Los Angeles?

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Last year, we waited until the Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the Western Conference Finals before looking ahead to a life in L.A. without LeBron James. And to be fair to the many writers who jumped on the speculation and the betting odds, it was James himself who first used the word retirement.

We’re still a couple of days away from the NBA All-Star Game, and several weeks of basketball away from being done with the 2023-24 season. But already we’re talking about the Lakers and James, and if the two will part.

How Close was James to Being Traded?

Two of the more connected basketball journalists in the country, Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, reported that the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers reached out to the Lakers and enquired about a trade for James.

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss reportedly told Warriors owner Joe Lacob that he should reach out directly to James’ agent, Rich Paul, and ask if the NBA’s all-time leading scorer was interested in a trade. The answer came back “No,” and as we know, there was no trade between the two teams. James is still a Laker and preparing for his NBA-record 20th All-Star Game appearance.

Our sports betting partners at have James at +700 to win the All-Star Game MVP.

Rich Paul said on Wednesday that James is “committed to the Lakers.” But when James was in New York two weeks ago to play the Knicks, he was asked if he knew what his plans were for next season. The answer: “No.”

Since coming to the Lakers six seasons ago, James has missed the playoffs twice, including his first year in L.A. That ended a streak of 13-straight playoff appearances. And this year, the Lakers are also in danger of missing the playoffs. NBA online sportsbooks have the Lakers at +110 to make the playoffs, and -134 to miss them.

No doubt being the current nine-seed in the Western Conference — and having to play for his postseason life — are among the reasons that James has shown discontent with his current situation. But does that unhappiness mean that James will leave?

A Possible Free Agent

James says he is committed to the Lakers, and he has the power to make that commitment official by exercising his player option for next season. He has not done that, meaning that his options remain open, and he can move teams if he so chooses.

Considering how interested the Warriors were in James just a week ago, it stands to reason that they would still have that interest in July, when James is on the open market.

James and Warriors forward Draymond Green are friends off the court, and they share Rich Paul and Klutch Sports as their agent. In fact, at the trade deadline, Green reportedly reached out to Paul and asked him to convince James to join him with Golden State.

James doesn’t have the same relationship with Warriors superstar Steph Curry, but he has said in the past that he would like to play with Curry. “Steph Curry’s the one that I wanna play with. I love everything about that guy. Lethal.”

James went to Miami as a free agent. He went back to Cleveland as a free agent. And he moved to Los Angeles as a free agent. So we know he’s not opposed to changing teams when he feels it’s in his best interests. And a move up to San Francisco does make some sense.

Regular NBA bettors, however, are not convinced that the move to the Warriors is the one he’ll make. If his team next season isn’t the Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs are the favorites to land James, paying +300. The Cleveland Cavaliers are next at +400, with the Chicago Bulls right behind them at +500. Golden State is all the way down at +2500.

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