LeBron James says he will be hands-off when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason decision-making process in the wake of one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
“That’s not my decision,” James said Monday ahead of the team’s exit interviews. “It’s not my decision to sit here and say, ‘Well, this is what we should bring back and have on the roster.’ That would be the front office’s decision. And obviously they may ask my input, but at the end of the day, they’ll make the decision they feel that best suits this franchise going forward.”
Since James came to the Lakers in the summer of 2018, vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has referred to James as a “stakeholder,” allowing for greater influence from the star when it comes to personnel decisions than in the typical player-management relationship.
However, after James’ and Anthony Davis’ input led to L.A. overhauling its roster to trade for Russell Westbrook last summer, only to see the team finish just 33-49 and fail to qualify for even the play-in tournament, there appears to be a shift in strategy.
“I think the front office will do whatever it takes to help this ballclub become a better ballclub from top to bottom,” James said. “Ask me my opinion, I’m going to give my opinion. But at the end of the day, they’re going to make the decision that they feel is best for the franchise.”
Pelinka took ownership for the Westbrook misfire and made a point of separating his role from James’ in putting the team together, despite the collaboration.
“The roster decisions ultimately rest on my shoulders,” Pelinka said Monday. “And I will take input from LeBron and Anthony as our two captains. I have done that during my entire tenure. But at the end of the day, I think I’m the one who leads the basketball operations department and will take ultimate accountability for the roster decisions that are made.”
Pelinka said L.A. will continue to build around James, with his scoring average of 30.3 points per game this season evidence he has plenty left in the tank.
“LeBron James is a player that’s on the Mount Rushmore of basketball, and every season of his 19 so far has to be looked at as a precious commodity,” Pelinka said. “And we need to do all we can to be caretakers of his legacy and to try to build the best team we can around him. And that’s something that we had the objective for that last year and obviously this roster did not work. But there’s a great level of trust in our collaboration with him to make sure we get it right this summer and fix it.