LeBron James Already Starting to Hint the Lakers Need to Blow It Up As Soon As Possible

LeBron James
LeBron James / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers got absolutely annihilated in Philadelphia last night, losing to the 76ers 138-94. For those more mathematically challenged among us, that's a 44-point loss. Which is bad! Very, very bad. The Lakers were far from full health, missing all of Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt. But it is legitimately difficult to lose by that many points in the NBA no matter how banged up the roster is. It's the sort of loss that shakes teams to their core.

It certainly shook LeBron James, who has never lost by more points than he did last night. The Lakers superstar didn't do much to help swing the tide of the contest, scoring 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting while failing to record a single rebound for the first time in over a decade. He did pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the history books again, this time for most career minutes played, but that was the only highlight of the night. Afterwards he broke out the ol' LeBron media quote playbook to express his strong displeasure to the front office with how things are going via reporter's microphones. Via ESPN:

James and the rest of L.A.'s main rotation players were pulled for good with 8:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lakers already trailing by 27. James was asked whether he has thought about what needs to change with his team -- which is now 3-6 on the road and 10-8 overall -- to avoid defeats like Monday's moving forward.

"What needs to change in order for that not to happen again? Um, a lot," James said.

Asked if there was anything in particular L.A. needed to focus on, he repeated: "No. A lot."

And then this:

Yep. Classic LeBron-speak alright. He thinks the front office needs to make a trade.

For those who doubt, this is pretty much what James says every time he thinks the roster around him isn't up to snuff. He's perhaps the most melodramatic star in history and is not afraid to send thinly-veiled messages in his media appearances. Like, for example, last January when he directed the front office to trade Russell Westbrook, just in fewer words:

“Y’all know what the f— should be happening,” he told The Athletic at the end of our brief-but-revealing conversation. “I don’t need to talk.”

Or in February 2022, when LeBron said the Lakers weren't capable of reaching a championship level of basketball after a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks:

When asked if the Lakers can reach the Bucks’ level, James had an interesting answer.

“Where they are right now? I don’t know. Do I think we can reach the level where Milwaukee is right now? No. Is that what you want to hear from me? No. You want a follow-up? I would hope [we can reach their level], but right now, no. We can’t get to where they are right now. They’re the defending champions for a reason and I guarantee you if you would’ve asked teams coming out of the bubble if they could get to the level that we were playing at when we won a championship, they would’ve said the same thing.”

Or ahead of the 2022 season when he ranted that a team should always do everything they can to surround superstar players with talent, even it meant trading draft picks. It was about Aaron Rodgers but also not really.

Now, not all layered LeBron James quotes are made the same. Making the comments he did after a loss in late November with four rotation players missing could be more geared towards giving his teammates a kick in the ass rather than bemoaning the big-picture situation.

But if I were in the Lakers front office, alarm bells would be going off. Because when LeBron starts getting cryptic in the media, things are not well. We shouldn't expect Los Angeles to do anything dramatic yet but keep an eye on this moment if the slide continues. It may end up being the beginning of the end for a few Lakers.