Less than an hour after the Denver Nuggets secured their first NBA Finals appearance by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James redirected the media's attention back to him with a introspective and somewhat cryptic postgame press conference.
"Just personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about," James told reporters.
Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes and ESPN's Dave McMenamin later confirmed that LeBron was indeed alluding to retirement, and that had the internet stewing over possible reasons for the message.
Every move is calculated with LeBron, including much of what he says to the media. Is he really going to consider retiring? Is he just trying to apply pressure to the front office to go get him another star teammate? Could he take a gap year to watch his son play at USC and then return to the league, as suggested by Rob Perez?
For today's purposes, let's assume it's the leverage play. If that's the case, who are some potential stars L.A. could go after? And what would those deals look like?
General frameworks (that you're free to quibble over) can be found below.
Give a Star to Get a Star in Trae Young
- The Deal: Anthony Davis and Rui Hachimura (sign-and-trade) for Trae Young, Onyeka Okongwu and De'Andre Hunter
The idea of Trae Young joining the Lakers is already in the ether. The fit between him and Dejounte Murray wasn't great in Year 1, and The Athletic's Jovan Buha reported that L.A. has already had "internal discussions" about acquiring him.
Atlanta Hawks writers like Hawks.com's Kevin Chouinard have understandably pooh-poohed the notion of such a deal, but what if the Lakers got really serious and put Anthony Davis on the table?
The Ringer's Bill Simmons kicked around the idea of an AD-Young swap on a recent episode of his Bill Simmons Podcast with Buha appearing as a guest.
Of course, this wouldn't accomplish LeBron's potential goal of upgrading from two stars to three, but Young doesn't turn 25 till September. That alone could keep the Lakers' window to contend open a bit longer, and Young's averages of 27.4 points and 9.7 assists over the last four seasons suggest he's more capable of alleviating LeBron's responsibilities than Davis is.