- LeBron James held meetings in his house with NBA stars to join LA, according to The Athletic.
- James and the Lakers eventually settled on Russell Westbrook as the best choice for the team.
- James also had a hand in recruiting other free agents, with Carmelo Anthony calling him "the GM."
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LeBron James wanted to be involved in landing his next All-Star teammate.
According to a report in The Athletic, as the Los Angeles Lakers sought to make a deal for a star player to join James and Anthony Davis, James helped in the process.
James reportedly set up a "war room" in his Brentwood house and researched who could be available and fit alongside him. James held in-person meetings and calls with prospective candidates.
The Athletic reported that James held some of these meetings alongside Davis and former teammate Jared Dudley. The house, purchased in 2017, is outfitted with a cigar lounge and wine cellar, and is reportedly his office for much of his off-court business, according to The Athletic.
According to the report, James personally met with star guard DeMar DeRozan twice to discuss their fit.
James had also been working out with Russell Westbrook in Los Angeles in the offseason, and the two discussed their fit on the court, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
Ultimately, after it became clear that the Lakers didn't have the pieces to trade for top targets like Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal, the team turned their attention to candidates like Westbrook, DeRozan, and Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield.
The Lakers were on the verge of making a deal for Hield, when Westbrook got involved and told the Wizards he would like a trade to the Lakers so he could play in his hometown of LA. Westbrook's request helped spur the two teams to begin negotiations, and the two sides made a deal on the night of the 2021 draft.
Questions remain about Westbrook and James' fit on the court. Both are strong ball-handlers and playmakers, but Westbrook cannot space the floor. When James has the ball, defenses won't respect the threat of a Westbrook three-pointer. The Lakers could give the ball more to Westbrook, but taking too much ball-handling away from James would be a waste of his generational court vision.
According to The Athletic, a source close to James and Westbrook discussed the importance of "sacrifice" during their meetings.
"Just sacrifice. Sacrificing on both ends. They all have to sacrifice. It don't matter who you are. They've got to sacrifice. They know that.
"They talked about it. I think just out of respect for one another, 'Hey man, this is the only way this is going to work – if we can do it.' And so they had that understanding."
James also had a hand in the Lakers landing supporting cast members like his close friend Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony said on the "Million Dollaz Worth of Game" podcast that James told him, "The time is now" to team up, calling James "the GM."
Anthony said he told James, "You the GM."