Insider: ‘2 Teams’ Eyeing Potentially Discounted LeBron James in Free Agency

The Los Angeles Lakers’ plans to revisit the trade market this offseason could lead to a summer blockbuster. But it could also come out of necessity amid the uncertainty surrounding LeBron James’ future.

James, in the first year of a two-year, $99 million contract, has a $51.4 million player option for next season.

He said he did not know if he was going to opt-out or not when asked directly.

“It seems far more likely than not that James will exercise it — where else is he getting a salary like that in his 22nd NBA season and with his 40th birthday looming on Dec. 30? — but the Lakers have to be prepared for all scenarios,” The Stein Line’s Marc Stein wrote on February 12.

“I know of at least two teams on the NBA map that believe LeBron James would consider signing with them at far less than $51.4 million if Bronny James is on the roster. There might be more.”

“The minute you see Bronny James declare for the draft, they know who’s taking him and you know where LeBron James is going.”

However, he helped fan the flames with his comments, posts on social media, and actions following games without clarifying any of it when asked. His agent, Klutch Sports Group CEO Rich Paul, issued a brief statement regarding the speculation.

“LeBron won’t be traded, and we aren’t asking to be,” Paul said, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on February 2.

Trae Young Could Be Lakers’ Replacement for LeBron James
Stein also noted the indecision within the Atlanta Hawks, with whom the Lakers engaged in trade talks for Dejounte Murray. Those talks went stale as each side re-evaluated its stance on the assets involved.

That decision could lead to an even bigger get for the Lakers this offseason: Trae Young.

“I can tell you this much: They’ve certainly convinced various rival teams that a Dejounte In/Trae Out course is going to be legitimately considered,” Stein wrote.

“The Hawks, to be clear, have not made a firm decision yet. This isn’t the time to lock into such a lane with 29 games left in Atlanta’s season and a trip to the Play-In round, at the very least, more than within reach. How the rest of the season plays out is obviously going to factor into those next steps.”

Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer published a similar report after the deadline.

“There are several front offices that listened to Atlanta’s pre-deadline chatter and came away from conversations with the Hawks of the belief Trae Young could become available for trade this summer,” Fischer wrote on February 8 noting a similar stipulation regarding the season.

Lakers Have Had Trae Young on Trade ‘Radar’
Young is in the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract, and he has not made any public push for a trade.

He did stir trade rumors popping up at a Lakers playoff game last season.

Trae Young arriving courtside to Game 6 of Lakers-Warriors with agent Rich Paul

Young – who has a home in Los Angeles – cleared the air, saying that he attends a lot of games in his spare time. But the Lakers have been monitoring his situation for some time in the event he became available.

“The Lakers have pursued other star guards,” The Athletic’s rote Jovan Buha on August 31. “Trae Young has long been on Los Angeles’ radar, depending on how his situation unfolds.”

As is often the case, there will be plenty of intrigue around James and the Lakers this offseason.

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