Report: Lakers contemplated moving LeBron before trade deadline

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, Norman Powell had 20 and the Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-98.

It seems like LeBron James may no longer be untouchable after all.

According to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, the Los Angeles Lakers considered moving James before February’s trade deadline, just six months after signing him to a four-year, $153-million contract.

Bucher reports that the team’s relationship with Rich Paul, James’ agent, was weakened after the agent allegedly leaked rumours about Los Angeles being willing to trade everyone but James in order to get New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who is also represented by Paul.

That didn’t appear to sit well with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who reportedly considered terminating the team’s relationship with the agent by trading away LeBron. Paul denied the allegations and mended things with the team’s ownership, according to Bucher.

“Several league executives would not be surprised if the Lakers at least explored their options,” Bucher wrote of the tense situation.

James’ current four-year deal does not include a no-trade clause, according to Bucher, but does include a 15-per cent trade kicker — “his contract’s value increases 15 per cent and the raise has to be accounted for in making the deal work under salary-cap rules,” Bucher wrote.

The Lakers currently hold a 31-37 record after last night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, and sit three spots out of the playoffs in the West. It seems the team’s disappointing campaign, and the groin injury that sidelined the 34-year-old James for 17 games, have had a negative impact on his trade value, according to Bucher.

“For now, the expectation is the Lakers will look for James to get healthy and during the off-season acquire the kind of high-IQ role players, veterans and outside shooting that have provided the template for James’ success elsewhere.”

James is averaging 27.4 points, eight assists and 8.6 rebounds in 35.3 minutes per game. The superstar has also been on a 28-to-32-minute restriction since March.

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