Bill Simmons: Can we stop pretending LeBron James doesn’t run the Lakers?

“By the way, he should run the Lakers.”

Bill Simmons says we need to stop pretending that LeBron James doesn't run the Lakers.
Screen grab: ‘The Bill Simmons Podcast’

When it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s often difficult to separate LeBron James’ desires from the team’s front offices.

While the 4-time MVP obviously isn’t the Lakers’ general manager, he clearly wields a massive amount of influence. And according to one of basketball’s most prominent voices, it’s time to stop acting otherwise.

“So LeBron’s going to take less money — this came out today — he’s going to take less money if they get a free agent that he wants. But he’s not running the Lakers,” Bill Simmons said sarcastically on the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast. “The Lakers are running themselves. They hired the coach themselves, they’re doing all the draft picks themselves.

“My point is, why do we have to pretend he’s not running the Lakers?  Like how long do we have to do this? How long? Give us a date. By the way, he should run the Lakers. I thought they should have hired Maverick Carter as the coach and then LeBron could have just told him what to do.”

While one could dispute whether James’ willingness to take a discount is an indication of his clout within the Lakers’ organization, it would be impossible to argue that he doesn’t possess such pull. In this offseason alone, Los Angeles hired JJ Redick — who has no previous NBA coaching experience, but hosted the Mind the Game podcast with James — and used a second-round pick on the 4-time NBA champion’s oldest son in what marked the worst-kept-secret of the 2024 NBA Draft.

Obviously, the idea of a superstar player pulling the strings within his organization is nothing new and is a notion that has followed James throughout most of his 21-year NBA career. But Simmons’ comments appear to be more directed toward the coverage of the Akron, Ohio, native than James himself.

Despite the Lakers being heavily linked to both Redick and Bronny James, reports persisted that James wasn’t involved in either Los Angeles’ coaching search or its draft plans. If that was the case, then it sure is a heckuva coincidence that the Lakers wound up hiring his podcast co-host and drafting his oldest son in the same offseason in which he has the ability to opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

While some of the narrative that James isn’t involved in the Lakers’ decision-making has been driven by Rich Paul, Simmons also noted that the NBA super agent also seemingly said the quiet part out loud when he told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony that if LeBron wanted Bronny on the Lakers, he’d “force” the team to take him in the first round. Ultimately, how much influence James has over the Lakers is a matter of semantics. But to Simmons’ larger point, it’s silly to act like his say isn’t sizable.

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