Keyshawn Johnson, a former NFL star, believes LeBron James' recent comments about the LA Lakers may put his future with the team on the line. James, who has been vocal about playing alongside his son, made several comments during the All-Star weekend that have caused a stir around the NBA world.
Johnson, on his podcast, said Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner and current president of the Lakers, will side with general manager Rob Pelinka.
"Jeanie is a very loyal individual," Johnson said. "I think her loyalty will side with Rob Pelinka before it does an aging LeBron James despite winning a NBA title just two years ago. It's just the reality of it.
"You've got to think about it, if LeBron James walks out the door the next year or a year after, what are the Lakers left with? They are left with Anthony Davis."
"Anthony Davis is a Rich Paul client, but Anthony Davis – in most people's eyes in the Laker building or in the NBA – is not living up to everything that it was supposed to be when he became a Laker. He was supposed to be heir apparent to LeBron James, and you were supposed to build around him. That doesn't seem like that's gonna happen."
Will LeBron James leave the LA Lakers for better opportunities elsewhere?
The Athletic quoted LeBron James on Saturday as saying "the door's not closed" on a second return to Cleveland. James, from nearby Akron, Ohio, began his journey in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. Since then, the future Hall of Famer has become a living legend, one of the greatest ever to play the game.
However, even as he approaches the end of his career, the 37-year-old still battles critics to establish himself as the greatest ever. With four championships, he stands behind the late Kobe Bryant (five) and Michael Jordan (six). These three have dominated the modern era of basketball. James needs to stand at least alongside Bryant to be seriously considered, as pop culture calls it, the GOAT.
But to do so, he needs another championship, one that seems highly unlikely this season. His team, or more accurately Jeanie Buss' team, has struggled even against weaker teams.
While discussing a return to the Cavaliers in his interview with The Athletic, James said:
"I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing. I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free."
The statement was followed by James' public declaration of accepting a trade with a team that would allow him and his son, Bronny James, to team up. For the president and owner of the LA Lakers, these statements are obviously disheartening.
However, the league stops for no one, and the pieces move here and there. This season is most likely a major concern for all parties involved. The Lakers (27-31) need to improve, and James needs to lead them to frequent victories or risk missing the playoffs.