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The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t play Thursday night, but they may have still been on LeBron James’ mind even when he was analyzing the Green Bay Packers as part of Amazon Prime Video’s alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football.
“If you have a transcendent franchise player like Aaron Rodgers,” he said (h/t Sports Illustrated). “… Why wouldn’t you surround that, when you got the picks, to maximize what he can do?”
Notably, co-host Paul Rivera asked, “Are we still talking football or are we talking basketball?” which led to some laughter on set.
James, Rivera and Maverick Carter hosted the alternate broadcast of the game between the Packers and Tennessee Titans that emulated an episode of The Shop. It included guest appearances from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, and actors Rob Lowe and Jamie Foxx.
As far as the Packers go, they have been consistently criticized and questioned for not drafting enough offensive playmakers around Rodgers, especially in the latter portion of his career. They also traded No. 1 wide receiver Davante Adams this offseason.
While Rodgers is widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in league history, the Packers have been to the Super Bowl just one time in his career. That came back in the 2010 campaign, and they have consistently fallen short in the NFC playoffs of late.
But it’s difficult not to read between the lines whenever James says something.
Despite plenty of speculation this offseason, his Lakers did not drastically change the roster even after missing the playoffs and play-in tournament in 2021-22. Russell Westbrook is still there, and the Purple and Gold look nothing like playoff contenders.
Perhaps a trade is needed, but Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported earlier this month that the front office is “moving in a direction where they’re going to resist moving first-round picks if the season continues to go down this path.”
That would mean holding on to first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, which will be used in all likelihood after the 37-year-old James is past his prime or perhaps even retired.
Such a direction may be in the best interest of the franchise, but James surely wants to win now.
The 3-10 Lakers don’t look like they’ll be doing much of that this season.