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Ahead of trade deadline, LeBron James says Lakers have ‘enough right now’ to compete for championship

Between the All-Star starters announcement and his triple-double performance in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ win over the Brooklyn Nets, LeBron James was all over the headlines on Thursday night. After the game, he added another with his comments about the status of his team ahead of the trade deadline. 

“GM LeBron” has become a cliche over the years, as many believe he’s often orchestrated moves behind the scenes, acting as a de-facto team executive. Because of that, and his stature in the league, he’s often asked about the status of his team’s roster, especially during trade season. The latest question came after the win over the Nets, with a reporter wondering if the Lakers were “one piece away” from competing for a title. 

His answer? No moves necessary. “We have enough right now,” LeBron said. It was a wise, diplomatic answer. 

On the one hand it inspired confidence in the team around him, and made it clear he’s not looking to shake things up. And to be honest, why would he? The Lakers are 36-9, coming off an impressive win over the Nets and have been victorious in eight of their last 10 games. They have a four and a half game lead in the Western Conference, are just three games back of the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the league and are top-five in both offensive and defensive rating. This team is really good, and can compete for a title as currently constructed. 

At the same time, he left things open-ended with the “right now” portion of his answer. Things can always change ahead of not only the trade deadline, but buyout season. Whether that’s an injury, a poor run of form, or just a realization that they need a boost in the backcourt or in the shooting department. There’s no need to suggest the team needs to make big changes right now while they’re rolling, but it would be just as foolish to suggest they can’t get better. 

Whether it is a trade or a late-season pick-up once buyouts begin, it’s likely the Lakers will try to make some move to improve their roster before the playoffs. It could be a big move if they decide to look at dealing Kyle Kuzma, or more likely it will be something around the edges to improve their depth. But either way, LeBron definitely distanced himself from those sorts of decisions with his comments on Thusday.