Friday, December 2

LeBron James and Lakers front office ‘don’t have an issue,’ agent Rich Paul says after meeting with ownership

One of the biggest NBA storylines over the last few weeks has been LeBron James’ potentially deteriorating relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers. James was reportedly disappointed with the front office’s inaction during the trade deadline, and that was followed by statements from James during All-Star Weekend that suggested he could eventually leave the Lakers for the Cleveland Cavaliers, or whichever team ends up selecting his son, Bronny, who would be eligible for the 2024 draft.

In the past several days, James has also praised the general managers of both the Los Angeles Rams and Oklahoma City Thunder, which some interpreted as hints at his displeasure with the current Lakers front office.

In an effort to clear the air, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, who is also the agent of James and Lakers forward Anthony Davis, met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Paul reportedly insisted that James and Klutch are making no effort to seek changes in the Lakers’ front office and that James’ “primary objective” is to remain with the franchise, while focusing on finishing this season strong before regrouping in the offseason.

Following the meeting, Paul went into further detail with Sam Amick of The Athletic:

“I just don’t think (communicating indirectly) is the right way of doing business,” Paul told The Athletic. “And I don’t think that’s who we are, who LeBron is. We have a great partnership with the Lakers. The Klutch Sports Group and the Lakers don’t have an issue. Rich Paul and Rob Pelinka don’t have an issue. LeBron James and Rob Pelinka don’t have an issue. And Jeanie Buss and LeBron and Rich Paul don’t have an issue. It’s very simple. Very simple. So, you know, whoever put that type of stuff out, and people run with it, I think it’s unfair to the Lakers.”  

After entering the year as one of the league’s championship favorites, the Lakers are now clinging to play-in position with Davis set to miss at least four weeks with a foot injury. Part of that is due to the substandard season from Russell Westbrook, whom the Lakers acquired this summer in exchange for a large chunk of their depth.

James’ recent comments have fueled speculation that he and/or Klutch might put pressure on the Lakers to make changes in the front office, but Paul’s reported comments suggest that Pelinka is safe … for now, at least. Particularly after Davis’ latest injury, there seems to be at least a moderate acceptance from the Lakers that a championship may not be in the cards this season, and that focusing on this coming offseason and 2022-23 may be the most productive course of action moving forward.

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