The Los Angeles Lakers have been rumored for over a year to be trying to sign Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James when he becomes an NBA free agent this upcoming summer.
And while the Lakers might not look like James’ best option given that they won’t make the playoffs this season and play in a loaded Western Conference, very few have postured that the they wouldn’t immediately welcome the superstar with open arms.
However, according to one NBA executive who spoke with Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, that very well might be the case. That executive told Pincus that while he thinks Lonzo Ball could play alongside James, he and LaVar Ball might not be too thrilled about that:
“I don’t think he’s the best fit with Lonzo [Ball],” one Eastern Conference executive said. “I think James would stunt his growth. Ball is talented enough to play off the ball and make it work, but he’s best with the ball in his hands. With him wanting to secure his first payday, I don’t think he’ll be too happy deferring to James. You know his pop won’t.”
This actually isn’t that surprising for a few reasons. For one, any team-ups between big-name players are always picked apart by anonymous executives as impossible to make work or unlikely to last until they do.
And while James and Lonzo might seem to be developing a solid relationship with moments like when James offered the rookie some private advice after a game earlier this season, James has a reputation for not exactly ceding the spotlight to younger stars. It’s something that was rumored to have pushed Kyrie Irving to demand a trade last summer.
Things might change as James gets older, but players considered the best on the planet aren’t generally eager to give up the throne. Lakers fans don’t have to look much further than the backseat the younger Lakers had to take to an aging Kobe Bryant for an example of that.
The James the Lakers would be signing figures to be better than the post-Achilles tear version Bryant was, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Ball would be any happier deferring to him either. As the executive mentions, this isn’t necessarily about winning. It’s about branding and getting paid, things Ball wouldn’t have a chance to maximize while playing in James’ shadow.
That wouldn’t necessarily be an incorrect stance for Lonzo to take, however, it’s also not necessarily the stance that he will take. This executive is just guessing at Lonzo (and LaVar’s) intentions behind a veil of anonymity, and while he might be right, he’s ultimately just speculating.
It’s impossible to know how Lonzo would take James joining the Lakers, and even if he didn’t take it well, having two amazing players who don’t get along isn’t a bad problem to have because it means the Lakers have two good players. The team would probably be happy to cross that bridge if and when they come to it.