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Whether Lakers fans like it or not, LeBron James holds the keys to the franchise's future. Before James came to town in the summer of 2018, the Lakers were adrift in a sea of mediocrity. LA missed the playoffs in five-consecutive seasons, with 35 wins being the high water mark.

LeBron transformed the Lakers from a laughing stock to a legitimate contender, but in the last two years, the franchise has drifted closer to the former than the latter. 

In a recent meeting between Rob Pelinka, Darvin Ham, LeBron James, and his agent, the powerful Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, Pelinka reportedly promised LeBron that he'll do everything in his power to ensure that the Lakers are perennial contenders according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

"Pelinka made his feelings clear that he wants James to retire as a Laker and promised to provide him with every resource possible to compete for a championship each year he’s with the organization, sources said."

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One resource that Pelinka hasn't used, yet, is the Lakers 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks that have been the stumbling block in potential trades with the Pacers and the Nets.

Throughout his NBA career, James has applied pressure to front offices to shed draft capital for proven players by leveraging short-term contracts. Essentially, he can threaten to start exploring other options via free agency if the front office doesn't bend to his will.

Fan bases don't enjoy the approach, but there's no doubt that it's yielded results for LeBron James.

As long as Pelinka keeps his promise, there's a good chance he does retire a Laker.

It will only cost the Lakers their future.