Earlier this month, former head coach Jeff Van Gundy made headlines during an NBA broadcast when he suggested the Los Angeles Lakers should explore trading LeBron James.
Although he was laughed at by both of his ESPN colleagues, as it turns out, Van Gundy's idea might not have been all that far fetched.
On Thursday, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report published a story in which he explored what the 34-year-old James' trade value would be. In doing so, he revealed that the Lakers even "contemplated" the idea last month due to frustration with James' agent, Rich Paul, during their failed attempt to acquire All-Star Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
"The subject of moving James, however, was contemplated by the Lakers, a team source said, weeks before Van Gundy aired it. When rumors engulfed the team at the February trade deadline that it was willing to trade anyone other than James to acquire All-Star forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, James' agent, Rich Paul, was widely accused of spreading those rumors because Davis is also one of his clients. Paul denied to B/R that he leaked the Lakers' interest in Davis, but [Jeanie] Buss suspected otherwise and was furious. The idea of terminating the franchise's relationship with Paul by moving James at least crossed Buss' mind, the team source said, and Paul was made aware of that."
That, however, is the extent to which a potential James trade was ever broached. According to Bucher, Paul reached out to Buss, the Lakers' owner, and successfully patched things up before the potential of his star client being traded ever escalated.
Last summer, James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign a 4-year deal with the Lakers worth $154 million. Despite a strong start in the first three months of the season, Los Angeles' playoff chances have since fizzled, with the team currently seven games back of the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference.
A part of the Lakers' disappointing season has been the result of James missing a career-high 17 games due to injury, but Los Angeles' failed attempt to acquire Davis has also seemingly had an adverse effect. Since James returned to their lineup on Jan. 31, the Lakers have compiled a mere 5-11 record.
With James likely on the outside looking in of the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the league, the Lakers will enter this summer as one of the NBA's most fascinating teams. At this point, the idea of the 4-time MVP being traded still seems far fetched. But if Bucher's report is accurate, it's already been discussed at least once more than anyone could have imagined.