The player most shopped by the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason is Russell Westbrook, a former MVP who had one of his worst seasons last year. The point guard struggled to fit the Lakers roster because he could not shoot the ball well enough or play off the ball effectively. In many ways, he was exposed. But perhaps the Lakers have been trying to move the wrong player, hoping to find a better-suited star alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
What if the Lakers were to trade LeBron James, arguably one of the top-5 players in the world right now? The King had a fantastic season by posting 30.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 6.2 APG while nailing 52.4% of his field goals. Those are elite numbers from an elite player, so it is no wonder why the Lakers are trying to find someone to complement him. But it is far easier said than done when it comes to finding a suitable teammate for LeBron and Anthony Davis.
For one, Westbrook is essentially an untraceable asset because of his poor production last year coupled with his $44 million salary. Meanwhile, LeBron is approaching 38 years old, and the only way to gamble for a two-year window is by sacrificing all of the future draft capital owned by the franchise. It is likely far-fetched that the Lakers would be contenders by simply moving Westbrook and all of their draft picks.
Instead, the Lakers should try to trade LeBron James. As crazy as that sounds, it could work because he has the most trade value on the team and could be a player that could bring in a legitimate superstar to pair alongside Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. This could work, especially if one of the three packages delivers a chance for the Lakers to be competitive again. Because as things stand, the Lakers will not win with their roster and won’t be able to bring in a star at the expense of Russell Westbrook.
Perhaps most importantly, leaving Los Angeles could give LeBron James the best chance to win his elusive 5th NBA championship, an achievement that would probably take his legacy to an entirely different level. Without further ado, here are the three best trade packages that could be offered for the services of 4-time NBA champion LeBron James.
Trade Package: Kevin Durant for LeBron James
With LeBron James on board in Brooklyn, the sky is the limit for the Nets. They can get Simmons to learn from one of the greatest players ever, and there is no secret that The King is fond of the Australian star. With LeBron and Simmons, the Nets have two franchise playmakers to build upon. Of course, LeBron can prime Simmons to be the next big thing and actually help the Australian one day reach superstar potential. Remember, it was only a few years ago when most people touted Simmons to be one of the future faces of the league.
But by far the biggest X-factor in this deal could be Kyrie Irving. LeBron’s former teammate, Kyrie, could be tempted to stay because he has his big brother back beside him. There is no doubt that LeBron and Irving fit perfectly together, and instead of playing together in Los Angeles, they can team up with the Nets alongside Ben Simmons and a sharpshooter in Seth Curry. For LeBron James, this could work out perfectly because he also gets a chance to continue playing in a big market in New York.
A player as big as James wants his mystique to be recognized, and Brooklyn would welcome him in open arms. Even though The King is happy in Los Angeles, the city of Brooklyn could still keep the star in the media’s light and close to all the action. LeBron has a far better chance of winning a title with the Nets alongside Kyrie and Simmons than he does in Los Angeles with Davis and Westbrook.
Of course, for the Lakers, they receive arguably the best player in the world in his prime right now to pair alongside Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. Losing LeBron will hurt, of course, but not if it means getting back Kevin Durant. It would be a meme-fest if Durant reunites with Westbrook, but it could potentially work since Russ is basically fighting for his career right now. The Lakers are all about stars, and there is no doubt that Durant is one. With the 4-time scoring champion on board, the Lakers are back in the title hunt while LeBron has his best chance to win his 5th championship in this straight swap deal.
Golden State Warriors
Trade Package: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, 2026 First-Round Pick, 2028 First-Round Pick for LeBron James
The Golden State Warriors are properly built as is. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the sharpshooting is at an elite level under head coach Steve Kerr. But if they could add LeBron James, they absolutely have to go for it because a championship or two would be guaranteed, even if they already won the 2022 NBA championship. That is because LeBron, who is no doubt fond of Curry, could be the primary playmaker and allow the two all-time great shooters to move off the ball and receive countless open looks.
Curry and Thompson playing beside one of the greatest passers of all time would be incredible to watch. As great as Steph is as a playmaker, he will never be mistaken for being a better passer than The King. In many ways, Curry is a natural shooting guard because he loves to shoot. LeBron could play at the point, and the likes of Draymond Green would return to his best level once his friend and former foe is on board. No doubt, Golden State would be an unbeatable superteam once again with The King.
Losing first-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins, budding star Jordan Poole, two-way forward Jonathan Kuminga, and two first-round picks is a hefty package to give up. But Golden State needs to take advantage of Curry’s prime, as the point guard is 34 going on 35, so acquiring two years of LeBron James could take both players’ legacies over the top. No doubt, LeBron could realistically equal Michael Jordan’s 6 rings with this trade.
For the Lakers they should do this deal in a heartbeat to solidify their future and also compete next year as well. Wiggins and Poole are a fantastic duo around Westbrook and Davis because they can score, and the former is an elite defensive wing. Kuminga could also be thrust into a more prominent role and given the opportunities to shine. Not to mention, the franchise gets some valuable draft capital that can be used when the Warriors are no longer the threats they currently are in the foreseeable future.
Los Angeles won’t get a single player as great as LeBron in this deal, but they can change up their entire game plan by moving The King for solid starters and future assets. No doubt, Poole would not mind signing a max contract with the storied Lakers franchise, and Wiggins could continue his ascent to reaching his true potential. It won’t be easy to see LeBron win a championship or two with the Warriors, but the Lakers might have to accept that for the sake of them organizing their present and future.
Trade Package: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, 2024 First-Round Pick, 2026 First-Round Pick for LeBron James
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown's outstanding play on both ends of the floor, coupled with Marcus Smart and Al Horford's superior defense, were key factors in the Boston Celtics' demolition of the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round of the playoffs. The nucleus of the roster undoubtedly had an impressive season together, forcing the Golden State Warriors to a Game 6 before failing to force a Game 7. There is no denying that the Celtics' Finals defeat was painful because they came out as underprepared and immature against the Warriors. For starters, Golden State could not believe how frequently the Celtics hurt themselves on the court due to the atrociously high turnover rate.
It must be mentioned that there are no guarantees that the Boston Celtics will make the NBA Finals again as currently constructed, although the acquisition of LeBron James could almost ascertain that in 2023. Boston needs to make a major move to get a step over other top franchises in the conference, including the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, and LeBron James would give them just that.
Los Angeles has made no secret that they want to go all-in for the championship in 2023, and the Celtics package gives them that while also allowing for some flexibility. Brown is an All-Star with a chance to form a nice duo with Anthony Davis, and Marcus Smart is fresh off a season where he was named Defensive Player of the Year. The two first-round picks also give the Lakers plenty of assets to build upon next for the future, once Davis is getting older.
But no doubt, LeBron James benefits from this deal the most. For one, he gets to play with a top-10 player in the world in Jayson Tatum and under a head coach he can respect in Ime Udoka. The Celtics have their core intact with Al Horford, Robert Williams III, and two newcomers in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari, and LeBron becomes the point guard Boston desperately needed last year. With James at the point and shooters and bigs around him, the Celtics will likely win the 2023 NBA championship.
3 Blockbuster Deals That Could See LeBron Challenging For A 5th NBA Championship
Any of these three deals see the Lakers improve and move on from the disaster of last season. The Brooklyn Nets package is simply the best because Kevin Durant is regarded as the most impactful player in the game today. The Warriors package gives Los Angeles two All-Star-caliber players, some future draft picks, and a talented two-way player in Kuminga.
Striking a deal with the Boston Celtics sees the Lakers acquire two starters with playoff experience to complete a solid lineup with Westbrook and Davis. Los Angeles needs to find a way to change things up, and giving Westbrook the ball again while surrounding him with defenders or All-Star players makes the most sense, especially if Davis can get back to an elite level.
For LeBron James, he gets his chance to win his 5th championship outside of Los Angeles. In Brooklyn, he has Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, along with a sharpshooter in Seth Curry and a young athlete in Nic Claxton. Of course, head coach Steve Nash could find a way to make James extremely useful in an uptempo offense. In Boston, James forms one of the best duos in NBA history with Jayson Tatum while keeping important role players, including Malcolm Brogdon, Al Horford, and Robert Williams III.
Even in Golden State, LeBron creates a super (duper) team with champions Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green under an all-time great coach in Steve Kerr. The deck would be stacked in LeBron’s favor again, and his 5th championship would be guaranteed.
Overall, the Lakers trading LeBron James gives the franchise the best bet to compete again while giving Westbrook the ball on a full-time basis. The King also gets one of three top destinations to try to win his 5th championship, an achievement that would bring him closer to equaling Michael Jordan’s 6 championships.