Sun. May 19th, 2019

LeBron James: Lakers coach Luke Walton makes trade talk admission over superstar

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That is what the head coach himself has revealed.

The Lakers are 14-9 for the season and on course for the playoffs as they seek a post-season return for the first time since 2012-13.

But much has been made of the Lakers’ reliance on four-time MVP LeBron, who leads the team in scoring, assisting, rebounding and stealing. 

The Lakers’ young core – Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart – have all endured struggles in ensuring LeBron has enough support on the floor as they adjust to playing alongside the superstar.

And that has led to widespread suggestions that the Lakers must work on adding a second star behind LeBron in order to truly contend the Golden State Warriors and their other rivals for championships in the future.

The Lakers’ youngsters are continuing to improve but with a time limit on LeBron’s peak, the franchise could be forced into making changes to add more established firepower around their leading man.

LA have the cap space to add a max contract free agent in the summer such as Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard but have also been tipped to make trade moves for the likes of Bradley Beal and Anthony Davis.

Yet Walton insists he has not spoken with LeBron over their long-term plans, and simply only on how they can maximise their potential for this year.

“We talk about the best route to get where we want to be at the end of this season,” Walton told reporters at Lakers practice.

“What’s the best way of getting there? We have those type of talks. As far as anything past this season, we don’t talk about it at all.” 

A major contributor to their success this season will be the Lakers’ young guys stepping up – and LeBron himself admits he needs to come to terms with playing less minutes to allow the team’s other players to grow and develop.

He sat out the entire fourth quarter of their win over the Phoenix Suns and is averaging a career-low 34.7 minutes per game this season.

But both Lakers legends Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant have aired concerns that too much is going through James.

LeBron admitted: “Like you guys asked me the other day, ‘Do you feel better after playing 30 minutes compared to playing 40 minutes?’ It’s like, ‘No.’ 

“I work myself all year round to get in tip-top shape all year round. I don’t stop. So I can do whatever. I mean, I played a Game 7 of the Finals and I damn near played every minute. 

“Last year I played every single game. Every single game. So, you know, you can kind of slice it how you want it.

“But I understand what Magic and Kobe are saying, and we have to continue to develop these guys because if we don’t, then long-term, what does that do for our franchise?

“I want to play 48 minutes a game. Seriously. But it’s not going to happen. It’s not smart. It’s not smart on anyone’s behalf, but it’s just the competitive side of me. 

“If you ask any competitive guy that’s been in my case, do they like coming out? There’s not going to be one that’s going to say yes. But at the end of the day, you got to do what’s best for the team, and you got to be able to protect yourself as well. 

“So I love everything that’s going on with our ballclub and this franchise since I got here.”

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