King’s Court: Nick Wright on LeBron’s power to veto roster decisions in Los Angeles

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Nick Wright, Cris Carter and Sarah Kustok discuss if it's a good idea for the Los Angeles Lakers to let LeBron James have a say in roster decisions.

- This makes me a little nervous. I think LeBron James should have veto power. I do not think they need to say to LeBron James, give me a list. I think if they have come-- it is Rob Pelinka and Magic's and the scouting department's job to-- and the analytics department's job-- to figure out which players are available at the right price that they think will fit the style they're going to play. I have no problem with them, once they've compiled the list, going to LeBron and saying, anyone on here that you want crossed off? That, I think, works.

But what I've seen-- listen, LeBron is an A-plus in a lot of things across basketball. Evaluating how good other players still are is not something that I think is his strongest suit.

CRIS CARTER: And it's always a problem for current players. Because what our memory is of other players-- I remember this and I-- when I retired from football, man, people had me playing fantasy football. Man, you were a great fantasy football player, Cris. Man, I was in a couple of different leagues. The first few years, I was the worst.


Man, pick this guy. Man, you got to pick Anquan Boldin. Man, he's got durability. Because guys who I knew and guys who I like--

NICK WRIGHT: Right. Of course.

- And so that's what you end up attracting.

- So interesting.

- Yeah, but that's real because he's human. And you could see that with LeBron and some of his relationships, the guys who got contracts and everything. So I like that theory.

- But to me, then you look at a guy like Lance Stephenson, and that's where I think a lot of eyebrows were raised. Because this was someone who no one probably ever would have pegged would be a guy that LeBron would want on his team. But that goes back-- I covered the Cavs-Pacers series this past year. And it was interesting because LeBron was asked about Lance a lot, how he was an agitator, what he did. LeBron still spoke with such a high amount of respect for him, the type of confidence, the type of competitor he was, the fierceness that he brings.

I think it's a fair deal that they did with Lance. Again, it goes back to a one-year deal, but I think LeBron-- I would assume Magic and Rob spoke with him about different guys. I-- I'm not sure LeBron just said, I want XYZ--

NICK WRIGHT: I don't think he did, either.

SARAH KUSTOK: --and they--

- And I wasn't trying to act like that's what happened. I just wanted-- that's not what I think would be smart.

CRIS CARTER: I think they had targeted a group of players and went over that group of players with LeBron. You know, on this sheet, these are players where we have interest in. What do you think?

- Is there any concern that if LeBron starts being consulted on general manager decisions or picking players, then that bleeds into a little bit, well, he's got more power than, say, Luke Walton or if he doesn't like the way the direction of the team is going--

NICK WRIGHT: He has more power than Luke Walton.

JENNA WOLFE: OK, but does that-- OK, so does that bleed into the direction of the team or how successful the team can be or a balance of power between the general manager and Magic and Rob and Luke and LeBron?

- Look, this is the thing in the NBA. The power is with the players, all right? The players got the guaranteed money. Unless you are Pop, unless you're Brad Stevens, he's not even on that corner where he would like to throw his career around. This is the way the NBA has been run for years. It's about the players and about what the players want. Magic Johnson has been associated with a couple of coaches. All of a sudden, now, they not his coach anymore. So this wouldn't be new.

We just-- we tend to forget. And then we bang on LeBron for him being involved in decision making where this has been part of the NBA for the last 40 years.

- I also think the jury's still out. Is Magic-- we know the player Magic Johnson was. Is he a good team president? Rob Pelinka, this is his first time as a general manager. What can he do? I believe that this is all about Magic understanding the asset that he needed to get LeBron James and massaging the situation.

And I think that Magic Johnson is savvy enough to understand, as the season goes on, as the tenure with LeBron goes on, he's going to continue to make decisions. LeBron has plot power. He'll listen to LeBron. I don't think he's just a free for all. LeBron, you tell me what to do and I'm going to do it for you.

CRIS CARTER: Yeah, but you also have to give the Lakers and the organization-- Jeanie Buss making the tough calls, as far as her brother being involved in day-to-day operations, when they decide to go to Pelinka and Magic, since then, they've made some good decisions, all right? They are good as far as salary cap. They got some good, young players that other teams want.

And also, not only do they have LeBron James, they have a guy that said, I want to be a Laker. But then, everybody said, well, wait, wait, wait. You only want to go to the Lakers? Well, I'll go to the Clippers because Kawhi's that kind of guy. But he did want to go to the Lakers and it had to do with, not only going home, but they did have Magic there and some good, young players.

- My only caution would be on any of this is-- I saw this happen four years ago. I really think LeBron was just watching an NCAA tournament game and saw Shabazz Napier go off and fires off a tweet, my favorite point guard in the draft. And the Miami Heat, in an effort to keep LeBron James in Miami, overdrafted Shabazz Napier. Shabazz Napier was drafted because of that tweet, I truly believe. And LeBron left.

And that-- by the way, it's not like Shabazz-- well, they picked a great player for what they needed. No, they didn't. I-- the point you're making, though, about the one-year deals is the most important one. And for the-- this is not a perfect roster for LeBron. It's long, somewhat athletic, some playmaking, but not enough shooting. But you're not going to find the exact perfect roster when you were only signing one-year deals and when you are trying to maintain maximum flexibility.

I do think they're going to get Kawhi. And you said the jury's still out on Magic. If the only thing Magic ever does is get LeBron James, that's still a more than passing grade. If they end up with Magic and Kawhi, they are-- oh, I'm sorry-- with LeBron and Kawhi, then, I mean, he can just chill for the next few years and let Pelinka and the scouting department do the rest. That will be an A-plus job. Right now, it's just-- it's not a perfect roster, but with the types of deals they were giving out, it wasn't going to.