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Rich Paul has become arguably the most powerful agent in the NBA, but he will always be associated with a single client. He got his start in basketball after befriending a high school-aged LeBron James, learned the ropes at CAA under James' second agent, Leon Rose, and when he went out on his own to found Klutch Sports, James was his first client.

But in a Friday interview with Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes, Paul made an interesting point about the future of James' current employer, the Los Angeles Lakers. While assuring Haynes that James has not involved himself in the team's ongoing search for a new head coach, he said that, in his opinion, "the Lakers' focus should probably be more so on Anthony Davis than LeBron at this point."

Paul is, of course, also Davis' agent, and helped orchestrate the 2019 trade that got him to Los Angeles from the New Orleans Pelicans. It is still a somewhat jarring statement to hear from James' own agent given LeBron's stature within the sport, and is therefore worth interrogating what exactly it might mean, and what a Davis-led future might look like.

James can become a free agent this offseason through a player option, while Paul's quote might put Laker fans on alert, all indications are that he plans to remain in Los Angeles in some form. The real question, though, is how much longer he plans to stay there. 

James will turn 40 next season. The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported that the expectation is that James will play one or two more NBA seasons, though given how good he still is and how much money he stands to make by at least playing out a three-year max contract, he should be considered year-to-year for the foreseeable future. Paul's words might suggest that the Lakers should plan for a shorter time period with James rather than an extended runway.

Davis turned 31 in March. He may be closer to the end of his prime than the beginning of it, but the Lakers can reasonably assume that he still has several years of stardom left, provided he can remain healthy. Part of the plan when the Lakers signed James was that he would eventually pass the baton as face off the franchise off to another player. That hasn't quite happened yet with Davis, but it seems as though the plan remains for him to do so.

Where things get complicated is in managing the roster in the interim. The Lakers have three first-round picks to trade this offseason. They have been linked to a number of star guards as targets with those picks, including Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Such a player would make plenty of sense as a long-term partner for Davis, who needs a ball-handler to set him up for easy buckets near the rim. 

But would another high-usage offensive player that doesn't excel defensively give James the best chance of maximizing his own title odds in these last few seasons? That's a tougher question. The Lakers won their 2020 championship with 3-and-D role players surrounding James and Davis. 

The new, second-apron ruleset built into the league's CBA means that any team uniting three veteran stars like the Lakers are seemingly trying to do would have next to no flexibility to surround those players with worthwhile depth. The Lakers lived out those depth fears when they traded for Russell Westbrook. During the 2021-22 season, 10 of their roster spots went to players earning minimum salaries. They've spent the past few seasons digging themselves out of that hole. The 2024 postseason has largely been dominated by teams that have emphasized defense and depth, which this sort of trade would preclude.

If the goal is to create a core that can outlast James in Los Angeles, it might be viable. Given a few years to work the margins, a front office could conceivably find the right role players to surround Davis and a new, guard sidekick that would allow the Lakers to compete. But it seems unlikely that James could wait that long, and the style that makes the most sense around him would be something closer to their own 2020 model, which emphasized balance.

There isn't necessarily a right answer here. Building a roster even around players as talented as James and Davis is a complex process. If the goal is to win right now, the answer is probably to focus on James. But if the goal is longer-term, Davis might still be young enough to make a multi-year process feasible. Paul, who knows both players better than anyone, seems to believe that the latter is the preferable approach.