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LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker today, but rumors suggesting an exit from the team he's played for since 2018 have never been louder. Most recently, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski published a story saying that both the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers attempted to acquire James prior to the NBA's trade deadline on Feb. 8. James obviously was not traded, but reporting around the league has suggested that teams don't consider the partnership between James and the Lakers to be ironclad.

His agent, Rich Paul, appeared on The Stephen A. Smith Show on Wednesday, however, and attempted to tamp down the rumors. "He's committed to the Lakers," Paul said. "Jeanie [Buss] has been an incredible partner for him and us, and I think it's important for that to be understood and to be respected. Obviously there's ups and downs and emotions throughout the course of a season, but ultimately, LeBron's committed to the Lakers."

What Paul didn't specify, however, was how long James is committed to the Lakers, because contractually speaking, the answer is "not very." James has a player option for next season that he can pick up at any time. When asked before a recent game against the New York Knicks if he knows if he will to do so after the season, he responded with a simple "no."

A trade for a player as accomplished as James would be immensely complicated on several levels. Matching salaries alone would require a team to gut its roster. A team as committed to maintaining relationships with stars as the Lakers would never trade James without his approval. The potential damage to their reputation would be too great. He has never moved through a trade, only in offseason free agency. Whether he will do so again remains to be seen, but contractually speaking, he has not yet made any commitment to the Lakers beyond this season.

By all accounts, retaining James is a priority for the Lakers. A report from Sam Amick, Anthony Slater and Jovan Buha of The Athletic Wednesday stated that the Lakers are "willing to explore" adding Bronny James in the NBA Draft. That plan "is rooted in the reality that James' happiness truly matters to the organization," according to The Athletic. James has long spoken of his desire to play with his son at the end of his career. Of course, any of the other 29 teams could potentially draft James with the hope that doing so could potentially help lure his father. The Lakers may not have their first-round draft pick this summer, as it is owed to the Pelicans with the stipulation that New Orleans can defer that pick until 2025 if they so choose.

James will remain a Laker for the rest of the season. That much was clear even as rumors swirled before the deadline. But his future beyond this summer is foggier. Until James actually indicates that he plans to re-sign with the Lakers, teams around the league are going to hold out hope that they can convince him to jump ship.