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If you were to ask ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, trading James might be the only way for the Lakers to turn their fortunes around.
Smith made his argument on Wednesday’s edition of First Take and said that James might be the only Laker that has value on the trade market.
“It’s the only chance you have to be immediately respectable if you’re the Los Angeles Lakers,” Smith said of trading James.
LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw during the game against the Detroit Pistons on November 28, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Smith pointed to the current nature of the Western Conference, in which there are at least six teams that he said have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs next season. None of those include Los Angeles as currently constructed, Smith said.
Guard Russell Westbrook and forward Anthony Davis are names on paper, but between Westbrook’s declining play into his 30s and Davis’ frequent injuries, the window to compete appears shut for Los Angeles. James, even at 37 years old, would likely garner more of a return on the trade market for those reasons.
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (6) plays against Cleveland Cavaliers’ Lauri Markkanen (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 21, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
The Lakers’ fall from grace has been well-documented this season, with Los Angeles going 33-49 and finishing 11th in the Western Conference.
Head coach Frank Vogel was fired after the season and a coaching search is currently underway, with Phil Jackson reportedly involved in the search process.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) is defended by Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
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