Warning: Story contains coarse language
To improve the team's odds, and to create an environment that James would happily join, Kobe Bryant encouraged team president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss to reshape the front office.
"Cut it all out at once. I know it’s hard to do, but if you want to turn this ship around, and turn it around sooner rather than later, then you’ve got to make those hard decisions," Bryant said to Buss in February 2017, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick.
"Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this shit going on. It’s not going to happen. So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew."
Jim Buss, Jeanie's brother, was relieved of his duties as executive vice president of basketball operations later that month, while Mitch Kupchak was fired as Lakers general manager.
Magic Johnson, who had already been serving as an adviser, took over as president of basketball operations, and Rob Pelinka was named the new GM weeks later.
"As a player, it’s like, listen, it’s a cultural thing. You’ve got to have the right culture around, especially for him (LeBron) at this stage of his career,” Bryant said. "You don’t want to come to a team and deal with a bunch of bullshit, right? You don’t want to come here and be part of an organization where the walls are talking and stuff is getting out left and right and you have this camp and that camp. You don’t want to do that. So I said, ‘You’ve got to start anew.’"
James ended up inking a four-year, $154-million contract with the Lakers this summer following a second stint with the Cavaliers.