FOX Sports NBA Reporter
A day after news broke that Kyrie Irving had demanded to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, LeBron James was asked if he was the type of player who could help the Los Angeles Lakers reach the finish line.
“That’s a Rob question,” James said, referring to general manager Rob Pelinka after the Lakers’ 131-126 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. “You have to see it when you get back to LA. I told you [for] A couple of weeks ago, I did not speak for our reception. My mindset is whatever lineup or group we have is to make sure we prepare the best way we can to go out and win.”
James then added one more sentence, clarifying his thoughts on whether Irving would bolster the Lakers’ title chances.
“Obviously that’s a question, what’s the word you use, when you talk about a player like that.”
James played alongside Irving on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-2016, they reached the NBA Finals all three years and won a championship together in 2016, coming back from a 3-1 deficit against Golden State Warriors to become the only team in NBA history. that have been pulled from such a hole in the championship round.
According to various reports, the Lakers, LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns are interested in trading for Irving. On Friday, amid the Irving news, James posted a cryptic tweet that was widely interpreted as him showing interest in playing alongside his former teammate.
Pelinka said last month that the Lakers would be willing to consider all options, including parting with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks if there is a deal that could turn them into a championship-caliber team.
Russell Westbrook, who has been involved in multiple trade rumors the past two seasons and whose $47 million contract would surely be part of the framework of any deal involving Irving, was asked Saturday if he felt any additional pressure as that Thursday’s trade deadline was approaching.
“No, I don’t,” Westbrook said Saturday. “It’s not about me. Like I said, I’ve known this was a business since I was 18, 19 years old, since I’ve been in it. My dad taught me that at that age, getting to this league is a business. , and people make whatever decisions they make. And I’ll make sure I’m prepared and professional, as I always have been and always will be.”
After being listed as questionable due to a non-COVID illness heading into Saturday’s game, Westbrook continued to play, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. He did not play the final 11 minutes, a decision Lakers coach Darvin Ham said was due to James, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverley and Troy Brown Jr. they had a good rhythm together in the first half before the Lakers blew out a 12-point third quarter. lead and the Pelicans snapped a 10-game losing streak.
“We find five that have a good rhythm together, we’ll chase that,” Ham said. “Like I said, there have been plenty of times this season where Russ has been part of that group, and tonight just wasn’t the case.”
When Westbrook was asked why he wasn’t on the bench during the stretch, he clarified that he was riding an exercise bike trying to stay warm.
“I’m always on the bike,” Westbrook said. “… I’ve been everything since Day 1. I have nothing. I’m very supportive. I’m a very supportive guy and teammate since I’ve been in this league. I compete every night, I do my job. When they ask me, I go out and compete. I don’t complain, I do what I have to do. I appreciate an opportunity. If my number is called, I’m always ready, and if not, I sit there and warm up, because I want to make sure I have an opportunity.”
As the trade deadline nears, James, who is 36 points away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s leading scorer, said the rumors shouldn’t distract the Lakers from doing their job . With this loss, the Lakers fell to 13th place in the Western Conference with a record of 25-29.
“It shouldn’t be a problem,” James said. “It happens every year. The trade deadline happens every year. It’s a business. You go out and play, you go out and focus and no matter what happens, you’re still a professional.”
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.
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