NBA trade speculation surrounding LeBron James has returned with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 3-10 start to the season.
And the Phoenix Suns are evidently an “ideal candidate” to trade for the NBA superstar.
Fox Sports’ Ric Bucher recently talked to an anonymous NBA scout, who fanned the flames of speculation about James going to the Suns.
“If the Lakers were to move James, it presumably would be to acquire the treasure trove of future picks they currently lack,” Bucher wrote. “A Western Conference scout pointed to the Phoenix Suns as a far more ideal candidate should they find themselves once again falling short this season in their quest for the franchise’s first championship, after reaching the Finals two years ago and then getting knocked out in a seven-game, second-round series by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks last year.
“The Suns have a solid core with Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but they may need another piece to get over the hump in the West, especially since they were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs last season.
“‘The Suns have proved themselves quite capable of getting close, but I think they need a little bit more if they want to get to where they want,’ the scout said. ‘One more ball handler and playmaker.'”
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Would LeBron James want to play for the Suns?
The Suns certainly might entice James, who has spoken highly of Devin Booker and who has a close relationship with Suns general manager James Jones from their time as teammates on the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.
James is also close to Suns point guard Chris Paul.
“It’s the one place he’d be welcome with open arms,” the scout said, according to Bucher. “In Phoenix, with LeBron, I think Chris would finally get his ring.”
James’ current contract with the Lakers runs through the 2023-24 season. He has a player option for the 2024-25 season.
He’s 37 years old, but is averaging 24.9 points per game this season to go along with 6.9 assists per game and 8.8 rebounds per game.
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Could the Suns actually trade for LeBron James?
Could James land in Phoenix, should the Lakers decide to trade him?
He is among the highest paid players in the NBA (he signed a 2-year, $97.1 million extension in August), and the Lakers would likely want a lot back for the veteran, should they even consider trading him to a division rival.
Phoenix does have a lot of future draft picks that the Lakers might covet, as well as some good young pieces that they could send to Los Angeles in return for the superstar, pieces such as Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges.
Any deal for James would have to wait, however. The star can’t be traded this season because the second year of the extension he signed in August exceeds a 5% raise.
He would be eligible to be traded after this season, however.
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LeBron James to Suns speculation isn’t new
This isn’t the first time the Suns have been linked to James as a possible destination.
In August, The Ringer ranked the Suns as the No.1 potential trade fit for James.
Of James’ potential fit in Phoenix, Kevin O’Connor wrote: “LeBron is BFFs with Chris Paul and old friends with James Jones. The Suns want Durant. Wouldn’t they also want LeBron? Phoenix is a great city itself, Arizona has lower taxes than California, and it’s just a short flight from Los Angeles. LeBron would get accused of riding coattails, but the Suns fell short in 2020-21, looked beatable in 2021-22, and are getting a little long in the tooth in 2022-23.”
In March, former NBA player Charles Oakley said that James needed to be traded to the Suns.
“Phoenix will make the money match because that’s what they need,” Oakley told Shannon Sharpe.
As long as the Lakers continue to flounder the speculation surrounding James is bound to continue, as is the talk of the Suns potentially being a candidate for the superstar’s next team.
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Reach Jeremy Cluff at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix Suns ‘ideal’ for Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James trade