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LeBron James suggests leaving. Lakers should leave him

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You just knew he was going to say it.

And certainly, in the most demanding way in the most difficult times, he said it.

As he carries a pile of disappointments for the second season in a row, LeBron James claims his arms are tired.

After realizing that the last fruitful years of his career could be spent in mediocrity, LeBron James claims his mind is wandering.

On Wednesday night, at a postgame press conference in Miami, two days before his birthday, James carefully lined up 38 candles, pointed them in the direction of Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka, and blew out.

“I don’t want to end my career playing at this level from a team point of view,” said James.

The Lakers had just lost for the 21st time in 35 games.

“Playing basketball at this level just to play basketball is not in my DNA,” he said.

The Lakers are once again spiraling towards the bottom of the standings and look set to miss the playoffs for a second straight year and third time in James’ five seasons with the team.

“I know what I can still bring to any football club with the right parts,” said James.

The Lakers have James under contract for at least two more seasons, and he’s not guaranteed to be interested for that long.

“I’m a winner and I want to win…so let’s see what happens and how fresh my mind will be over the next two years,” said James.

Many times the endlessly passive-aggressive James’ comments are open to interpretation, but this isn’t one of them.

This is aggressive-aggressive.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James passes Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz

LeBron James passed Magic point guard Markelle Fultz on Tuesday in Orlando.

(Kevin Kolczynski/Associated Press)

This is a direct threat to Lakers management that they need to immediately make the impossible trades that would make this team unlikely competitive… or else.

Or, arguably, the greatest player of all time will ask to be traded.

James wasn’t specific on that point, but it seemed pretty obvious that he doesn’t want to stick around for another rebuild and could be given a shot at finishing his career with a title contender once the Lakers can trade him after this season.

His message is clear: help me or get me out of here.

The Lakers administration’s response should be equally clear: See you later.

For the first time ever, Lakers management should say to one of their superstars, “No,” and actually do what’s best for the Lakers.

What’s best for the Lakers right now is nothing. With Anthony Davis having disappeared into street clothes again for at least a month, the Lakers’ season is all but baked, burned beyond any hope that the Russell Westbrook trade and valuable first-round picks will make them whole again.

LeBron James, left, sits next to injured teammates Anthony Davis and Juan Toscano-Anderson.

LeBron James, left, sits next to injured teammates Anthony Davis and Juan Toscano-Anderson during a game against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday at Crypto.com Arena.

(Márcio José Sanchez / Associated Press)

Sit tight for the rest of this miserable season. So this summer, begin a rebuilding process that will start with the expiration of Westbrook’s contract and gain real momentum with the official response to James’ complaints.

Yes, change it.

It’s not a new thought. The suggestion has been written in this space numerous times. But his comments changed the narrative.

It has long been believed that the Lakers would not have the gall to make such a deal. But now he gave them a reason. They’re not dispensing a legend, they’re simply fulfilling their request, which completely changes the landscape.

Seriously, how much longer can they believe that James is still capable of taking a young core to the playoffs? When are they finally going to admit that James is a wasted talent without Davis’ contributions, and when are they going to realize that Davis may never be a consistent star again?

Continuing to build a team around James with the expectation that he will still be able to lead a team of players to a title is the definition of insanity.

After the Christmas loss to Dallas, James basically said this to himself.

“How many times are you going to try to dig yourself out until there’s too much dirt on you?” he told reporters.

Don’t forget, this slow and brooding burial is at least partly James’ fault.

He threw a giant shovel full of dirt when he made a strong case for the Westbrook takeover, which cost the Lakers two championship players and spawned a nightmare.

He also failed to help get them back last summer, when he signed his two-year $97.1 million extension, shortly after financial publications formally crowned him a billionaire.

Hmmm, do you think James could have taken less money to give the Lakers more salary cap flexibility? Who does it? Well, Tom Brady has done it over and over again, giving up as much as $100 million to help the Patriots build New England’s six Super Bowl championships.

James brought a championship to this town, but he was never really connected with the Lakers organization or its fans. He’s here to win for himself, not for the Lakers, and the fact that he would be a huge distraction on Wednesday during such a tenuous period in this season’s evolution speaks to his priorities.

He wants to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record, and he’ll do it in a few months, and it’ll be cool… but that’ll be it.

Your star turn here will be done. Your future here is troubled. Its impact on a championship is negligible.

The irony of James’ comments is that there is only one way for the Lakers to rebuild to a level that would be to their competitive liking.

Rebuild without it.

Happy birthday and see you later.

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