Report: Rich Paul Met With The Lakers To Stress That LeBron Is Committed To Helping Them Win A Championship

It’s been a pretty underwhelming season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite entering the year with title-or-bust expectations, Los Angeles found itself sitting 27-31 entering Friday night’s game against the Clippers. They’re firmly in the play-in field, an automatic playoff berth seems like too tall a mountain to climb, and over the All-Star break, questions started being asked about LeBron James‘ long-term future with the team.

Between public comments James made that indicated a willingness to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers some day, his statement of intent to play his final season in the NBA alongside his son Bronny, and the fact that the team did not do anything at the trade deadline, it’s hard not to wonder if the future Hall of Fame inductee has his eyes on going elsewhere once his contract is up following the 2022-23 campaign. But according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, a recent meeting between Rich Paul and some higher-ups in L.A. was meant to quell fears that James is planning his next chapter.

In the aftermath of LeBron James’ public comments on a possible return to Cleveland and media reports describing his agency’s displeasure with the organization, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, insisting that there’s no movement underway to seek management changes and that he believes there’s a shared accountability for the franchise’s disappointing season, sources told ESPN.

After Pelinka resisted making any deals at the trade deadline, James’ own public comments — raising the possibility of a return to Cleveland and praising Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti — started to fuel speculation that he could leave in free agency in 2023. Paul has privately downplayed that possibility, and told the Lakers that James is committed to playing his part in helping the Lakers to become championship contenders again, sources said.

While James has been quite good when he has been able to play this season, injuries to Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook’s general issues getting used to life in L.A., and James missing time due to injury have led to a serious inability to gel. Maybe they’ll be able to figure some things out once Davis comes back from his current ankle injury, but if not, it seems likely this will be a quick playoff trip for the Lakers before an offseason where they’ll have to circle the wagons and figure out a way to win another Larry O’Brien trophy.