As things stand, the Lakers do not have valuable assets they can use in a trade and are locked into some big-money salaries. Following their dismal 33-49 season, changes are necessary, but they do not have enough wiggle room to make significant adjustments.
Considering the state of the Lakers, Smith believes it might serve the franchise to trade LeBron. That way, they can get players of value in return and try to restructure from there.
On ESPN's "First Take," Smith said:
"I get misquoted and taken out of context all the time. Thing about it is that I'm talking about LeBron James. I am in no way throwing any kind of shade on him. I'm paying tribute to his greatness. He is 37, he just finished his 19th season in the NBA averaging 30 and he's the only commodity the Los Angeles Lakers have."
Smith pointed out that Anthony Davis' injury concerns have made him less valuable in the trade market. Davis played 40 games (of a full 82) this season and 36 of 72 games last season.
"You know as well as I do, the Lakers can't get anything close to equitable compensation for the talent that is Anthony Davis, because of the injury-prone tendencies of Anthony Davis, so you scratch that out.
"If you're the Los Angeles Lakers, and you don't want to replicate what happened in the twilight years of Kobe Bryant the basketball player. Of course, God rest his soul.
"If you wanna avoid replicating that, what do you do? Who's the one piece that you have that everybody in the league will call and say, 'What you want? What we gotta give you for him? What you looking for?' Who's the one person that has a shot of allowing the Lakers to receive phone calls of that nature? That's LeBron James."
Suggesting a LeBron trade would be seen by many as ridiculous. Doing so will mean the franchise is not looking to contend for the 2023 championship.
LeBron James has missed the playoffs twice since joining the LA Lakers
While having Lebron James on a roster automatically makes a team a title contender, the Lakers have missed the playoffs twice in the last four seasons. Although they won the title in 2020, their second playoff appearance ended with a first-round exit, the first in LeBron's career, at the hands of the Phoenix Suns.
However, the four-time NBA champ is entering his final season with the Lakers. He has keenly expressed an interest in playing with his son, Bronny James, and will be willing to go to any team that signs his son.
Meanwhile, there is a chance that James will help the Lakers reach the playoffs at least one last time. While watching the first round of the 2022 playoffs, he tweeted that he is never going to miss postseason action again in his career.
The 18-time All-Star is still productive offensively despite being 37 years old. He finished the season averaging 30.3 points (second-best in career), 8.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks.