LeBron James

Taking stock of LeBron James and the Lakers, who can still stumble their way into championship contention

It's been a full-blown circus along the way, but here they are with LeBron James , a solid, if polarizing young core, an upcoming lottery pick and enough cap space to add a max free agent this summer.

The LeBron James-for-Ben Simmons trade rumor is never going to happen, but a Simmons-centric package for Brandon Ingram , Lonzo Ball , Kyle Kuzma and a first-round pick would be worth considering for both sides.

Any of this, of course, would require a savvy, deft handling of a lot of moving parts with heavy uncertainty, and have the Lakers really proven they're still a stable enough franchise with smart enough people making the decisions to pull any of this off?

They got publicly played in the Anthony Davis trade saga when they should've known they never had a realistic chance of pulling that deal off, not with Boston's potential offer -- which is expected to center on Tatum, the guy the Lakers could've just drafted -- still sitting out there and considered by EVERYONE to be a vastly superior package.

But it also was a reminder of something else: Every stop of Kidd's remarkable basketball journey over the past 25 years — from the University of California to the four teams he played for during his Hall of Fame career — ended with one burned bridge after another in his wake.

This all begs the question: If they think Kidd is such a vital piece of getting this team to a championship level, why not just make him the head guy and at least eliminate the potential for a re-run of last year's backchannel drama the second things don't go well?

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