LeBron James is not happy about the Lakers standing pat at the trade deadline, and he’s not been subtle about expressing that in his passive-aggressive way (which is what he’s done in Cleveland before). LeBron reportedly wanted the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook for John Wall (which would have cost the Lakers a 2027 first-round pick), and Anthony Davis agreed.
LeBron, Davis, and Wall are all clients of Klutch Sports, and a report soon followed the agency had pushed for the trade and was angry at Pelinka for not executing it.
Klutch sports principle Rich Paul reached out to Stephen A. Smith and denied that part of the story, something Smith repeated on “First Take.” Via Harrison Faigen of Silverscreenandroll.com.
“Rich Paul called me yesterday and asked me to quote him on this story about him, and Klutch Sports, and essentially them wanting the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to Houston for John Wall. He wanted me to state emphatically that there was absolutely, positively no truth to that whatsoever. He never did that. He did not do that. The people who wrote the story never contacted him to get any kind of perspective from him on that.
“It is an absolute lie, and he said ‘could you please do me a favor and quote me and tell the world that I specifically said that’s a damn lie. There is no truth. It never happened.’ Just for what it’s worth, that’s what Rich Paul says about these stories that have been put out there. Fair enough. So I quoted him.”
A few thoughts here.
• The Venn diagram of “what LeBron wants” and “what Klutch Sports wants” overlap pretty heavily. However, that doesn’t mean Rich Paul or his agency pushed for the trade.
• LeBron clearly wanted that trade to happen. The fact he pushed for Pelinka to trade for Westbrook in the first place, or that the trade would have made the Lakers marginally better at best and come at a steep price, is not going to deter LeBron.
• LeBron went to 10 straight finals partly because he pushed organizations into win-now — he does not care about draft picks other than as trade assets. The Lakers can’t trade a first-rounder until 2027 because of the picks they gave up to get Davis. LeBron isn’t looking ahead to that pick, he wants to see what it can do for him now.
• We will revisit all of this — and add in a possible LeBron contract extension — this offseason.