Paul Pierce suggests LeBron James could force Lakers to make polarizing move

Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards
Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are entering the final week of the 2023-24 regular season with a lot to play for. For the third time in the last four years, LeBron James and co. are embroiled in the NBA Play-In Tournament scene and are looking for better seeding in the tournament itself.

Los Angeles will either finish with the eighth or ninth seed and the difference between the two is huge. As the eighth seed, the Lakers will essentially have two chances to win just one game to get into the NBA Playoffs. As the ninth seed, the Lakers would have to win back-to-back must-win games.

As good as the team has played recently, the odds of the Lakers actually pulling this feat off seem slim, so getting the eighth seed is crucial. If the Lakers don't get the eighth seed, and end up falling short of making the NBA Playoffs, it could be the last we see of LeBron.

LeBron has a player option this offseason and will likely sign his last big multi-year contract, with or without the Lakers. Former LeBron rival Paul Pierce has a different idea, though. In a recent appearance on Fox Sports' "Undisputed", Pierce suggested that LeBron should demand a trade if the Lakers come up short in the play-in.

"If they flame out and lose in the play-in, I would consider, if I was LeBron, being traded back to Cleveland for Donovan Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell doesn't want to be there because we are not seeing signs of him wanting to re-sign. Bronny gets picked up by Cleveland, and LeBron gets his farewell tour with his son in his last year. "

Would LeBron James actually demand a trade to the Cavaliers if the Lakers lose the play-in?

We definitely see where Paul Pierce is coming from and to be fair, he is a former NBA player who knows the interworkings of the league. Pierce is going to have a much better idea of how the league works and what a player like LeBron may want to do than anyone covering the team.

That being said, there are a few hurdles in this proposed deal that the two sides would have to overcome. The first is the fact that LeBron reportedly wants a new contract in the nine-figure range and demanding a trade to Cleveland would stop that from happening. A sign-and-trade is not possible, as it would hard cap both teams, so LeBron would be locked in on his player option.

If he is willing to make that sacrifice in order to go back home and potentially play with his son then that is possible.

However, there is another problem. The Cavaliers currently do not have a second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft to take Bronny. Cleveland would have to find another means to get a pick, have the Lakers trade a pick alongside LeBron to get Mitchell, or would have to use Klutch Sports' leverage to make Bronny go undrafted to then sign him later.

Regardless, there would have to be some teamwork across all parties, but it is something that could be done. After all, Bronny intentionally left all of his options open next season, which would give James and whatever organization he is playing for more leverage.

But there is one more burning question about this trade proposal: would LeBron be willing to sacrifice a title chance to play with Bronny? While the Cavaliers are very talented, unless Evan Mobley takes a huge leap next season they still won't be as talented as the Lakers would be. If winning a title is still a main priority, LeBron probably has a better chance in LA.