LeBron is reportedly still upset the Lakers were idle at the trade deadline, failing to improve a squad that sits 27-31 after the All-Star break.
The situation is tense enough that one source close to the Lakers likened it to the early days of a war,” Oram reported.
James remains under contract through the 2022-23 season, but the divide could be enough for a split this offseason.
It’s a surprising development considering how much the Lakers have placated the superstar, creating a veteran roster in 2021-22 that has failed to reach expectations. The Westbrook trade has especially disappointed, with the guard producing just .038 win shares per 48 minutes, per Basketball Reference—the lowest since his rookie year.
The strategy of pleasing superstars is not uncommon for Los Angeles, however, with Bryant also getting plenty of say in personnel moves.
The Lakers notably traded away Shaquille O’Neal in 2004, splitting a duo that won three NBA titles together. After three up-and-down seasons without Shaq, the team traded for Pau Gasol, whom Bryant was a fan of prior to the deal.
The team also overpaid to keep Bryant late in his career, signing him to a two-year, $49.5 million contract after he tore his Achilles in 2013.