List of NBA superstars who could step in for LeBron James if he unexpectedly retires from the Lakers


The Los Angeles Lakers were swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, ending their season. LeBron James hinted at retirement, saying he has a lot to think about. A source revealed the physical and emotional toll of the playoffs may lead to LeBron leaving the game. James previously mentioned the possibility of one more Olympics run in 2024 or retiring by then. The Lakers now face uncertainty about their offseason plans, including the slim chance of proceeding without LeBron in the upcoming season.

Replacing LeBron James is a challenging task. To build a strong team without him, the Lakers would need to acquire another superstar who wants to play alongside Anthony Davis. These players may need to request trades, and teams would have to be open to negotiations. Given the allure of playing for the Lakers, finding interested players shouldn’t be difficult. While it’s likely that James will return for his 21st season, there are potential scenarios that could benefit the Lakers if he decides to retire.

Zion Williamson

The Lakers may pursue a trade for Zion Williamson from the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal would likely require additional players, such as CJ McCollum or Herb Jones, to match salaries. Pairing Zion with Anthony Davis would create an exciting and athletic frontcourt, although concerns about health arise. The Pelicans might seek draft picks, including Lakers’ second-round picks from 2028 and 2029, along with players like Rui Hachimura and Russell/Reaves in exchange for Zion.

Ja Morant

A potential trade involving Ja Morant to the Lakers could benefit both teams in a LeBron-less NBA. The Lakers would likely need to offer D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and a 2029 first-round draft pick in a sign-and-trade. This deal would provide Memphis with the desired compensation while giving the Lakers a talented point guard to pair with Anthony Davis. Although Morant doesn’t replicate LeBron’s contributions, his dynamic play and the guidance of experienced teammates could result in exciting moments and growth for the Lakers.

Damian Lillard

If Damian Lillard expresses his desire to leave Portland, a potential trade with the Lakers could be discussed, especially if LeBron James retires. The deal might involve a sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and a 2029 first-round pick. Acquiring Lillard would provide the Lakers with a prominent name and exceptional three-point shooter, complementing Anthony Davis in an inside-outside game. However, it remains uncertain if Portland would agree to such a trade.

Jayson Tatum

While it’s a stretch, a potential deal involving Jayson Tatum joining the Lakers could materialize. Tatum’s nostalgia and desire to wear the Lakers’ jersey, coupled with a disappointing 2023 season for Boston, might motivate him to push for a move. The pairing of Tatum and Anthony Davis would make the Lakers a strong team in the Western Conference. Tatum’s offensive versatility would complement Davis’ dominance in the paint, potentially propelling the Lakers further in the playoffs.

Joel Embiid

Rumors of Joel Embiid requesting a trade surfaced after the 2023 playoffs. A potential deal would likely involve Hachimura, Reaves, Russell, and the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick. Pairing Embiid with Davis could create one of the greatest frontcourts in NBA history, excelling in scoring, rebounding, and defense. The duo’s potential championship impact could help ease the departure of LeBron James.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

While highly hypothetical, a potential deal for Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Lakers would require several factors aligning. If Giannis were to request a trade from Milwaukee, the Lakers would likely engage in discussions, regardless of LeBron’s retirement. The package could involve Russell, Reaves, Hachimura, and the 2029 first-round pick, with additional compensation possibly sought by the Bucks. This trade would make the Lakers instant title favorites, forming a formidable duo with Giannis and Anthony Davis. In the event of any setback, the Lakers could consider building around Giannis and potentially move on from Davis.

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