NBA Rumors: LeBron James, Klutch 'Not Happy' With Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

Russell Westbrook and LeBron James sharing the court
Getty | Katelyn Mulcahy

JB Baruelo

The Los Angeles Lakers were among the aspiring contenders that they were highly expected to be active on the market before the 2022 NBA trade deadline. Unfortunately, despite their obvious need for major roster improvement, the trade deadline passed with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka not making any major roster move. The Lakers had the opportunity to get rid of Russell Westbrook when the Houston Rockets expressed interest in swapping John Wall for him. However, Pelinka refused to make the deal after the Rockets asked them to give up a future first-round pick.

Souring Relationship With Klutch Sports Group

Rich Paul taking to LeBron James
Getty | Allen Berezovsky

It's hard to blame Pelinka for rejecting the Rockets' proposal. Aside from the fact that he's been on the sideline since last season, Wall isn't viewed as a major improvement over Westbrook in the Lakers' backcourt. However, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Rich Paul and the Klutch Sports Group is "not happy" with Pelinka's decision not to reunite Wall with their two biggest clients - LeBron James and Anthony Davis - in Los Angeles.

"According to multiple NBA sources, Klutch is not happy with Pelinka. The sentiment has long percolated, but it reached a boil when Pelinka refused to trade Westbrook and a future first-round pick (likely 2027) for Houston Rockets guard and Klutch client John Wall."

Rob Pelinka Lied About Consulting LeBron James & Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis and LeBron James waiting for the game to resume
Getty | Steph Chambers

After the 2022 NBA trade deadline, Pelinka explained their decision to stand pat instead of making multiple deals. Pelinka revealed that they engaged in several trade discussions before the trade deadline, but they didn't find a trade that they believed would help them in the long-term and short-term. He claimed that James and Davis were consulted about the potential deals, adding that they both understood why they were unable to make any move. However, a source who spoke with Dave McMenamin of ESPN revealed that Pelinka was lying about consulting James and Davis about their trade-deadline plans.

LeBron James, Klutch Start 'Cold War' With Rob Pelinka

Rob Pelinka fist bumps LeBron James
Getty | Kevin C. Cox

As of now, James, Paul, and the Klutch Sports Group are yet to release a statement that would confirm or deny the rumors that they are unhappy with Pelinka. However, Sam Quinn of CBS Sports believes that James' recent comments about Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, which most people perceived as a shot at Pelinka, marked the start of the "Cold War" between Klutch Sports Group and the Lakers' management. If they fail to fix the issue before the 2021-22 NBA season comes to an end, Klutch Sports Group may consider severing ties with Pelinka next summer.

LeBron James Talks About Returning To Cleveland

LeBron James talking to reporters
Getty | Arturo Holmes

With the 2022 NBA All-Star Game being held in his hometown, James was asked about the chances that he would be returning to Cleveland for the third time. In an interview with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, James said that the "door's not closed" on the possibility that he would be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again before he permanently ends his NBA career. James also expressed his desire to team up with his son Bronny James, who is expected to be part of the 2024 NBA Draft class. James said that he would sign with the team that would draft Bronny.