LeBron James is reportedly already eyeing a role change with the Lakers that would emulate past NBA greats

  • LeBron James wants to play more from the post with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to a report.
  • A move from the perimeter to the post would be similar to changes Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan made as they got older and lost some of their athleticism.
  • James' move could help explain some of the Lakers' baffling offseason signings.


The next chapter of LeBron James' career may look much different than his recent years with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst, James, now part of the Los Angeles Lakers, James wants to change his role to play out of the post more than on the perimeter.

At 33, turning 34 in December, James knows his declining athleticism will make it more difficult to play from the perimeter, according to ESPN. Playing in the post would allow James to use his considerable size and strength to bully opponents for easier baskets and find teammates rather than getting a head of steam off the dribble from outside.

As Shelburne and Windhorst noted, the change also evokes one made by Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, two players who later in their careers moved from the perimeter to the post to make up for their slower first steps.

James has had an on-again-off-again relationship with posting up. He finally took the post while playing with the Miami Heat, sharpening his skills down low to accommodate some spacing challenges in Miami.

In Cleveland, James only played out of the post occasionally, instead doing a significant amount of his work from the perimeter, particularly in the pick-and-roll. Much of that was out of necessity, as in the past year, the Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving, forcing James to become much more of a playmaker and ball-handler.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers jokes with Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 120-108 Cavaliers win at Staples Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers posts up against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at STAPLES Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers shakes hands with LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after the game at STAPLES Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers are seen during the game on March 10, 2016 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers match up during the first half at Staples Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 14: LeBron James #23 of the East Team jumps the opening tip against Kobe Bryant #24 of the West Team during the NBA All-Star Game as part of the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 14, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Charlie Lindsay/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Western Conference All-Stars is greeted by LeBron James #23 after playing in his last NBA All-Star Game as part of the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend on February 14, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 14: LeBron James #23 of the Eastern Conference shakes hands with Kobe Bryant #24 of the Western Conference before the NBA All-Star Game as part of 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 14, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers puts pressure on Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on February 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers greets LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after the game on January 15, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 17: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference drives on Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on February 17, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 10: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat plead with a referee during a game at American Airlines Arena on February 10, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: LeBron James (L) and Kobe Bryant (R) look on during a press conference ahead of the London 2012 Olympics on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference react late in the second half during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant (L) of the L.A. Lakers playing for the West team, gets past East Team's LeBron James of the Miami Heat during the All-Stars Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 20, 2011. The game won by the West team 148-143 is the 60th NBA All-Star Game showdown between the Eastern and Western conference superstars. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 19: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stand together during their game at Staples Center on January 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: (L-R) LeBron James #6 and Kobe Bryant #10 of the United States pose with their gold medals after winning the men's gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games against Spain at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. The United States defeated Spain 118-107 to take the men's gold medal. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Beijing, China  Wednesday, August 20, 2008) Kobe Bryant, left and teammate LeBron James share a laugh from the bench as the last minutes tick away in a 116Â85 USA win over Australia in the Men's Olympic Basketball Quarterfinals in Beijing. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
USA's Kobe Bryant (L) and USA's Lebron James share a laugh as they sit on the substitutes' bench during the men's quarterfinal basketball match USA vs. Australia on August 20, 2008 at the Olympic basketball arena in Beijing, as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. USA won 116 to 85. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Kobe Bryant, winner Under Armour Undeniable Performance Award, and LeBron James **Exclusive** (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 13: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers shares a moment with LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during pregame warm ups prior to their game on February 13, 2005 at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
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According to ESPN, James' intentions to play more out of the post also help explain some of the Lakers' baffling moves in free agency. Rather than surround James with shooters, as the Cavs did, the Lakers wanted to sign ball-handlers and defenders who would take some of the burden of creating offense from James. The Lakers still want to add shooters around James in what has proven to be one of the most difficult setups to stop, but they reportedly believe finding shooters is easier than finding playmakers.

If James sticks to the plan — and surely it won't be a full-on, 100% change — it could allow him to be even more efficient from the field. At the end of games, he may also have the energy to attack off the dribble, something that was obvious toward the end of last season when he tired out.

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