NBA | May 23, 2023
Los Angeles Lakers fans are down bad right now and I say that as a long-time fan of the team. A nightmare season that started with the team having a 2-10 record eventually led to a miraculous turnaround. Once the Lakers offloaded Russell Westbrook, things immediately turned around. They went from being out of the playoff picture to making it to the Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, things ended in bitter disappointment. The Lakers got swept by the Denver Nuggets and it was clear they were completely outmatched in the series. To make matters worse, the future of the franchise is now in flux. Following the Game 4 loss to the Nuggets, NBA news and rumors started circulating that superstar forward LeBron James is seriously considering hanging his sneakers.
He’s the all-time scoring leader in league history and many argue that he’s already the greatest player to ever play basketball. LeBron said he has “got to think about it" when asked if he’s considering retirement.
He’s still playing at an All-NBA level but he has played the third-most minutes in NBA history and may want to stop putting such a strain on his body. His Lakers tenure has been far from smooth with multiple roster and coaching overhauls so it’s understandable why he feels like he needs a break.
However, the Lakers will be in a bad place if he decides to call it quits now. He’s the leader of the team and every team he has left is terrible the following year. Los Angeles would still have Anthony Davis but he hasn’t proven to be reliable during the regular season.
If LeBron retires, who is going to replace him? One name that has emerged as a potential target is Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, who was in attendance at the Lakers’ Game 4 loss to the Nuggets in Los Angeles. Could these NBA trade rumors be true?
Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported that the team has had “internal discussions about what a hypothetical trade offer for Young could look like this summer.” Young is a great offensive player but is a liability on defense. Pairing him with Davis could make some sense considering he’s arguably the best defensive player in the NBA.
It’s also worth noting that he’s a Klutch Sports client. A pairing of Young and Davis is good enough to keep the Lakers in the playoffs every year but likely not good enough to win a championship.
Now, adding Young to a team that has LeBron and Davis could be interesting. That said, the Lakers must learn from the Russell Westbrook disaster that having a trio of max superstars isn’t always a recipe for success. Things just got a whole lot more interesting in Laker Land as they head into the offseason.