Is LeBron James to blame for distracting the Lakers from a playoff run? At least one NBA executive thinks so.
Speaking to Bleacher Report, an unnamed exec said James is the reason for the Lakers’ struggles due to the distractions he created when trying to court Pelicans star Anthony Davis before the trade deadline earlier this month.
“He killed the [Lakers’] chemistry,” the NBA executive said. “He shouldn’t have been so public about it. Even during the All-Star draft, he laughed about [wanting Davis to be his teammate].”
James has long flirted with the idea of Davis joining him in Los Angeles — just last year, he publicly commented on a dream-like scenario in which the two would link up. That courtship created a circus-like atmosphere around the Lakers, targeting many of the Lakers’ younger players like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, all who were mentioned in possible packages to acquire Davis.
Following the Lakers’ 110-105 loss to the Grizzles on Monday night, their second-straight loss to an opponent under .500, many media outlets labeled James’ critical comments as a shot at teammates, after James was asked if the pressures of a playoff run were getting to the young squad.
“No. At this point if you are still allowing distractions to affect how the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come and be like, ‘Listen, I don’t [think this is for me]. I cannot do this,’” James said after the game, via ESPN.
“Like, seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes out of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year, nah. Just come and do your job. We do our job at a high level and that’s not a distraction. That’s what you want. That’s what you want every game. You want to feel like you’re fighting for something.”
The Athletic’s Bill Oram clarified James’ response after some speculated whether or not he was calling out his teammates.
After the Lakers’ loss to the Pelicans on Saturday — with Davis on the bench — James implied the Lakers’ inexperience was harming their playoff hopes.
“Everyone’s so accustomed to the losses that I’m just not accustomed to,” he said. “I’m not accustomed to it, I’d never get comfortable with losing. Losing game one to Houston, it feels the same way as losing game 59 in New Orleans, for me. That’s just how I’m built. That’s who I am.”
The Lakers are 29-31 and 11th in the Western Conference, three games behind the eighth-place San Antonio Spurs.