LeBron James Turned Down a Trade to the Golden State Warriors

The Los Angeles Laker superstar wants to remain with the team — for now

LeBron James stands on the court against the Denver Nuggets.
There will be no superteam this time.
Denver Post via Getty Images

When LeBron James announced “The Decision” to take his talents to South Beach in 2010, he helped create what many felt like a manufactured NBA superteam. Though the Miami Heat was hardly the first franchise to feature such a deliberate stacking of established stars, the eventual two-title winning team has been about the most widely criticized of them all. Pundits, such as Charles Barkley, and a number of fans have said that James’s ultra-glamorous approach to championship glory, where he needed star power around him, has harmed his legacy. But for one reason or another, James just zagged in the opposite direction.

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported this morning that the owner of the Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob, asked Jeanie Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, if James was available to him in a trade. If that were the case, and the two teams agreed to terms, it likely would have formed yet another superteam, starring James and the Warriors’ “Big Three” championship core of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

James had appeared frustrated with his current team’s reluctance to make any moves in the run up to the trade deadline. Currently, the Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference standings, but only 3.5 games out of the fifth and sixth spots, which would not require the team to push through the initial play-in tournament to qualify for the NBA playoffs. So about a day before the trade deadline last week, Lacob, whose team sits one place behind the Lakers in the standings, inquired about James. He was told by Buss to ask James’s agent, Rich Paul, about James’s openness to a deal.

“If the Lakers ever wanted a temperature check on James’ commitment, here was his chance to tell them,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote. “In the end, that answer for the Warriors and Lakers returned resoundingly on the eve of the trade deadline: Rich Paul told Lacob and Warriors GM Mike Dunleavy Jr., that James had no interest in a trade and wanted to remain a Laker.”

And that was that. No superteam for 2024 — at least the kind that wins what feels to many like empty championships. But James will have a chance to build a superteam for next season if he wants to. In his contract, he holds a player option for 2024-25. Maybe he’ll decline it, then pull an Ohtani and play for, like, 50 bucks alongside Nikola Jokić and company on the defending champion Denver Nuggets. Like fellow Los Angeleno Shohei, LeBron can afford to do so.

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