Sportress of Blogitude

Lakers sensitive to perception LeBron James is calling the shots

The Los Angeles Lakers are in midst of potentially franchise-altering offseason, and it appears the perceived, overreaching influence of LeBron James is causing some concern among the team’s brass.

James has long been considered a de facto player/coach/general manager/front-office executive throughout his NBA career, which it seems in the past has been begrudgingly accepted as perhaps a necessary evil of having a superstar of his magnitude on a team.

Still, the Lakers front office would prefer that not to be the outside perception.

What makes this moment in that regard particularly worrisome for the Lakers is that the team is in the process of hiring Luke Walton’s replacement. The prevailing belief around the NBA is that James will ultimately make the call on the team’s next head coach, or at the very least heavily influence the decision.

The top candidate for the Lakers’ head coaching job is now former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach — and LeBron confidante — Tyronn Lue, as Monty Williams has taken the job with the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers believe hiring Lue would indicate the organization catered to James’ whims and demands, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic.

The Lakers may well determine that Lue’s history with (an aging) James is too overwhelming a factor to ignore, and make the former backup on two Lakers’ championship teams the franchise’s 27th head coach. However, there is a sensitivity within Lakers walls to the outside narrative that James and his representatives are calling the shots, and hiring Lue would do nothing to diminish those cries. The Lakers’ relationship with James is still new and evolving, and the organization is still learning how to cater to James without ceding power to him. Which category would hiring Lue fall into?

The departure of Magic Johnson currently leaves a void in a power structure that the Lakers originally believed would limit the power James could wield over the organization.

That’s no longer the case and now Lakers brass have a decision to make on a head coach with James’ considerable shadow looming large over it.