Before anything else, major props should be given Warriors owner Joe Lacob for even attempting to pry LeBron James from the Lakers. He must have known from the start that getting the most influential personality in the most recognizable colors in the National Basketball Association was a Sisyphean endeavor. And yet he still plodded on, hanging on to the hope that the superstar who revolutionized player movement — but, it must be noted, who also made sure to honor every signed contract in the process — would be open to the notion of fulfilling a publicly stated desire to share the floor with Stephen Curry.

Needless to say, Lacob was emboldened by James’ passive-aggressive stance heading into the trade deadline. His body language, noncommittal responses during pressers, and even social media posts (notably a tweet with the hourglass emoji) made it seem like he was open to another change of scenery. Coupled with the need for the Warriors to do something — anything, really — in order to pour life into a sputtering campaign, the impetus was there to take advantage of an apparent opening. And, yes, it certainly helped that fellow Klutch client Draymond Green enthusiastically pushed for it, evoking memories of Kevin Durant’s arrival and the ensuing success of the blue and yellow in the middle of the last decade.

Unfortunately for Lacob, James is firmly entrenched with the Lakers. He has pursuits outside the court that tie him to Tinseltown, and not even a closer look at a fifth title figures to make him see how greener the grass is elsewhere. It’s not even a matter of the Warriors not having the right pieces to offer. Klay Thompson, Jonathan Kuminga, and a couple of draft picks may not be a fair return on paper, but there’s no doubt that Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka would have accepted the package if he really wanted out.

Make no mistake. James pairing with Curry would be a blockbuster, and Lacob knows it. Forget that it smacks of desperation — a clear mortgage of the future for immediate returns that are nowhere close to being guaranteed. He had to go for it despite the mind-boggling amounts in checks he is already cutting. And the fact that he was rebuffed doesn’t mean he will not try anew. If anything, the offseason looks to be a slugfest for the services of the would-be-40-year-old, and he’ll be among those jockeying for position at the front of the line.

For now, though, the Warriors and Lakers are left to wonder what’s in store while fighting for scraps. Given how things are going, they’re likely to do battle in the play-in tournament — not exactly befitting their stature. Of course, it’s also why they want James on board. If nothing else, he dares them to dream.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and  human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.