In the aftermath of LeBron James‘ public comments on a possible return to Cleveland and media reports describing his agency’s displeasure with the organization, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, insisting that there’s no movement underway to seek management changes and that he believes there’s a shared accountability for the franchise’s disappointing season, sources told ESPN.
Paul — whose agency represents stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis — made it clear that James’ primary objective is remaining a Laker and the goal now ought to be to finish the season as strong as possible and then regroup in the offseason on ways to improve the team, sources said.
After Pelinka resisted making any deals at the trade deadline, James’ own public comments — raising the possibility of a return to Cleveland and praising Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti — started to fuel speculation that he could leave in free agency in 2023. Paul has privately downplayed that possibility, and told the Lakers that James is committed to playing his part in helping the Lakers to become championship contenders again, sources said.
The Lakers are 27-31, ninth in the Western Conference and playing without Davis for what sources told ESPN are likely another four-to-five weeks with a right mid-foot sprain. The Lakers believe they’ll have the expiring contract of guard Russell Westbrook ($47.1 million), Talen Horton-Tucker and first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to use in trades.