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LeBron James says he can win with ‘any franchise’, not just Lakers

People are freaking out, as you’d expect.

Tuesday night was all about LeBron James breaking the NBA scoring record, but now it’s morphing into something a little bit different. LeBron said something very curious during a post-game interview with Shaq.

“I know I can play a couple more years. The way I’m feeling the way my body’s been reacting to me throughout the course of the season I know I can play a couple more years. It’s all about my mind. If my mind is into it, if I’m still motivated to go out and try to compete for championships, I feel like that’s what I can still do for any group of guys, for any franchise.”

Yup... for any group of guys, for any franchise. Not “the Lakers,” not “this group of guys,” but anyone. It could have been simply misspeaking a little, or a very pointed remark about his future in Los Angeles and simply saying the quiet part out loud.

LeBron has masked his frustration with the organization, for the most part. The team’s grand plan to assemble a championship-winning big three of LeBron, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook has been nothing short of disastrous. Davis has been brilliant when available, but routinely injured since joining the Lakers — while Westbrook has been a shadow of his former self over the last two years, and perennially in trade rumors.

While LeBron has been largely quiet, he couldn’t hold his tongue when Kyrie Irving was traded to the Mavericks.

The Lakers are in a weird spot. They’re 13th in the west and fighting for a playoff spot, which is still possible given there are only four games between the 5th place Mavericks and the Lakers. However, while other teams in the conference are making moves to get better, Los Angeles has largely been treading water, with their most notable move being a trade for Rui Hachimura.

Couched inside LeBron’s scoring record on Tuesday night was the reality that the Lakers still lost to the Thunder 133-130, putting them further back in the standings in a game where all of their big three was available.

Are the Lakers ready for one more championship push with LeBron at the helm, or is the team looking to tear it all down and rebuild? At this point nobody knows for certain. LeBron can be traded in the off-season, should he decide to force his way out — or Los Angeles will have almost max-level money in free agency, should they trade Westbrook. So really, everything is in the balance right now.

That said, if LeBron decides to leave and he truly does mean any team, then we can really have some fun with this.

The 4 dumbest/funniest locations for LeBron James to land if he leaves the Lakers

Cleveland Cavaliers

It would be kind of incredible to bring this back to where it all began, and for what it’s worth it seems the Cavs are keeping this door open. The team is already built to compete with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, and Cleveland has been curiously keeping its 2024 pick in their pocket — which is the first year Bronny James could enter the NBA.

Father and son reuniting in Cleveland? It’s dumb, and I love it.

Chicago Bulls

If you want to put a stake in the “MJ vs. LeBron” debate, then what better way that coming to Chicago and winning a title in Jordan’s house? It would certainly up the anti and hoooo, the drama would be delicious.

Charlotte Hornets

Let’s get even stupider. The Hornets are ass-bad and they are desperate to assemble superstar talent around LaMelo Ball. Imagine a scenerio where we re-invoke the same MJ vs. LeBron debate, but this time with James coming to Charlotte and winning the first title in NBA history for the team Jordan owns.

Bringing the Hornets back from the doldrums would be his greatest achievement.

New York Knicks

It’s the Knicks. I could end this with a “nuff said,” and you’d get it — but imagine what getting the Knicks over the hump would mean for LeBron’s legacy. It’s not clear how he’d fit with Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, but it would be a compelling enough roster to definitely push the Knicks higher than where they’re at right now.

In the end, what happens?

The safest bet is to assume the most obvious path: LeBron stays in Los Angeles. Is he happy right now? Absolutely not, but I think it’s far safer to take his “any franchise” comment as a shot across the bow at the Lakers front office ahead of the trade deadline, rather than him dropping gloves and wanting out.

LeBron is not the problem on the Lakers, it’s the talent around him. If AD can get healthy again, and the plug is pulled on the Russell Westbrook experiment, then there’s no reason to doubt this team couldn’t be back to contending for a title in short order. The question just pivots to whether Los Angeles can find the answers he’s looking for.