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Are LeBron James and the Lakers Headed Towards A Split? Odds Say James Remains in LA For 2019-20 Season

LeBron James
Are LeBron and the Lakers headed for a divorce? (Photo by Prensa Internacional/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
  • Bovada is dismissing rumors of a potential LeBron James trade with a brand new prop
  • The online sportsbook thinks there’s an 85% chance that LeBron will be on the Lakers when the 2019-20 season gets underway
  • The Knicks and Clippers are both possible destinations if Jeanie Buss decides to move her team’s top attraction

LeBron James changed the NBA landscape last July when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. Might be change it again this summer by switching teams?

Bovada doesn’t seem to think so. The online sportsbook is offering -600 odds that James will remain in the City of Angels for the foreseeable future despite rumors suggesting otherwise.

Where Will LeBron James Play Game 1 of the 2019-20 NBA Season?

Where Will LeBron James Play Game 1 of the 2019-20 Season? Odds at Bovada
Los Angeles Lakers -600
New York Knicks +700
Los Angeles Clippers +700
Cleveland Cavaliers +1000
Miami Heat +1000
Chicago Bulls +1500
Indiana Pacers +1800

*Odds taken 05/10/19

Magic Johnson’s Departure Set the Wheels in Motion

James’ future with the Lakers first came into question on April 9th when Magic Johnson shockingly announced he was stepping down as the team’s president of basketball operations during a hastily assembled press conference. The news hit LeBron like a load of bricks partially because it was so unexpected, and partially because Johnson had been responsible for luring him to LA in the first place.

The Lakers legend met with LeBron precisely one minute after free agency began and spent the next two hours courting him. He shared his vision for the team and laid out how they would win multiple championships together during their shared tenure.

Less than one year later Johnson decided to bail, leaving LeBron to fend for himself and leaving the Lakers in disarray.

Jeanie Buss is Being Pressured to Unload LeBron

Stephen A. Smith fanned the flames two nights ago on SportsCenter when he reported that people close to Lakers president Jeanie Buss are telling her to trade James.

It’s worth noting that Smith did not reveal his sources and, when pressed, admitted that he had no clue who was imploring Buss to unload LeBron.

Why Would the Lakers Trade LeBron?

There are multiple reasons why the Lakers would consider moving LeBron. For starters, the 15-time All-Star is  34 years old and is coming off a season in which he missed 27 games due to injury and rest. He has more mileage on his legs than his peers due to his early entry into the NBA and his many deep postseason runs, and is likely to continue to break down in the months and years to come.

LeBron is  34 years old and is coming off a season in which he missed 27 games due to injury and rest.

There’s also the fact that many of this year’s top free agents seem uninterested in playing in LeBron’s shadow. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and even Jimmy Butler have all bristled at the idea of riding shotgun to a fading star. Durant went so far as to describe the environment around LeBron as “toxic” and blamed his hordes of “media fanboys” for creating too many distractions.

Will the Lakers Trade LeBron?

Absolutely not. It’s easy to forget with the way the 2018-19 season ended, but the Lakers were just starting to gel last season when LeBron strained his groin on Christmas Day against the Warriors.

The club was 20-14 at the time and LeBron was developing outstanding chemistry with Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball. All three players will be back next season and, when healthy, form a formidable foursome with LeBron.

Yes, LeBron may have broken down last season, but it was the first serious injury of his career and may just be an anomaly rather than a troubling trend. The four-time MVP still put together another phenomenal stat line in the 55 games he appeared in, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. His basketball IQ remains unmatched and he has improved his range and arsenal with each passing year.

Keeping LeBron also makes excellent business sense for the Lakers. He continues to have the best-selling jersey in the NBA and his very presence turns otherwise ho-hum mid-season games into ratings winners. LeBron is LA’s golden ticket, and it makes no sense to give him away to another franchise while he still has so much to contribute on and off the court.

Will LeBron Force His Way Out of LA?

It seems unlikely. LeBron has only been with the Lakers for one season, but he already has deep ties to Los Angeles both personally and professionally. He uprooted his family from Ohio to move to California and now has made the city the center of his business empire as he continues to delve deeper into the world of TV and film production. LA isn’t just home, it’s also the perfect spot for his many side hustles.

Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (-600)

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