For as long as LeBron James has been in the NBA, there’s existed a notion that he and his team have a large amount of clout within whatever organization for which he’s playing. That narrative has taken on many different faces, whether it’s framing LeBron as a “coach killer” in regards to guys like Mike Brown, David Blatt and now Luke Walton, or painting him as someone who influences major personnel decisions.
Front offices, especially those in the Cavs organization, have always bristled at the notion that LeBron is a de facto coach and general manager, and have maintained that while LeBron certainly gives input on certain decisions, the notion that he’d ever have final say on a major decision like a coaching change or trade is nonsense. And yet, the narrative that LeBron is in control has only gained steam since he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, from the Anthony Davis trade debacle to the ousting of Walton. And the whispers are bothering the organization.
Per The Athletic, the Lakers, who are in the midst of a coaching search to replace Walton that appears to be down to Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams, are reportedly hesitant of hiring Lue because of his past ties to LeBron.
The Lakers may well determine that Lue’s history with (an aging) James is too overwhelming a factor to ignore, and make the former backup on two Lakers’ championship teams the franchise’s 27th head coach. However, there is a sensitivity within Lakers walls to the outside narrative that James and his representatives are calling the shots, and hiring Lue would do nothing to diminish those cries. The Lakers’ relationship with James is still new and evolving, and the organization is still learning how to cater to James without ceding power to him. Which category would hiring Lue fall into?
From former president Magic Johnson’s preseason comments that the Lakers didn’t want to use LeBron like Cleveland did, to the entire organization developing a sensitivity to whispers of LeBron’s control over the team, it’s hard not to conclude that the Lakers were a bit naïve to what they were getting themselves into when they signed LeBron. If ensuring the public knows that their star player does not actually make decisions for the organization is the Lakers primary focus with this coaching search, L.A. is already doomed.