LeBron James took the opportunity on Friday to try and clear up rumors about his future, saying he wants to be with the Lakers for the rest of his career.
“This is a franchise I see myself being with. I’m here. I’m here,” James told reporters following the Lakers’ 105-102 loss to the Clippers on Friday. “I see myself being with the purple and gold as long as I can play.”
James, who left the door open to returning to Cleveland over the All-Star break, walked that notion back. He also walked back the idea that he would go anywhere to play with his son, Bronny.
“I also have a goal that, if it’s possible — I don’t even know if it’s possible — that if I can play with my son, I would love to do that,” James said. “Is that, like, something any man shouldn’t want to do in life? That’s like the coolest thing that could possibly happen. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with this franchise.”
James had told The Athletic during All-Star weekend: “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”
James, who has one more year on his contract with the Lakers, also tried to clear up rumors that he was upset with GM Rob Pelinka’s failure to make a trade at the deadline to improve a team that’s currently 27-32 and ninth in the West. He had praised Thunder GM Sam Presti and LA Rams GM Les Snead, which was viewed as a subtweet of Pelinka.
“If I comment [on] or compliment the GM that’s in OKC — I really believe he’s doing a phenomenal job,” James said. “And you guys spin that to me saying Rob is not doing a great job. And if I say the GM from the Rams: I loved his f—ing t-shirt. I thought it was dope. And I believe the same way. I don’t care about picks; I care about winning championships. Well, how is that directed at Rob and the Lakers franchises? Rob has done the same thing. He went and got [Anthony Davis]. He didn’t care about picks as well, obviously.”
Though Pelinka might consult with him on personnel, James said he doesn’t “push the buttons” on such decisions. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that James’ agent, Rich Paul, met with the Lakers’ front office on Tuesday to clear the air.
The Lakers are currently in the midst of a disastrous season after the acquisition of Russell Westbrook. James said injuries to Davis and Westbrook hurt their chances of building chemistry.
“I do wish that we were just playing better basketball and between me, AD and Russ on the floor at the same time,” James said. “That’s the biggest disappointment so far, that us three, because we all wanted to see this work. We just haven’t been on the floor.”