Grade the Trade: LeBron heads east as Raptors join 3-team blockbuster proposal

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors have a long and painful history with LeBron James, including a number of playoff losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers during LeBron's second chapter with his hometown team. Toronto finally broke through and won a championship in 2019 in part because they traded for Kawhi Leonard, and in part because James left for the Western Conference.

LeBron has had a much more difficult time sustaining excellence in the West. After going to eight straight NBA Finals out of the East, LeBron has made it out of the First Round only twice in five seasons. With the Lakers now locked into the seventh seed and facing the defending champion Denver Nuggets, it seems likely that will extend to twice in six seasons.

What will happen if the Lakers lose again early in the playoffs? LeBron James is 39 years old and, while still playing at an All-NBA level, does not have very long to continue playing in the NBA. Does he want to stay in Los Angeles and continue developing his off-court business interests? Does he want to land with the team that can give him the best chance at another title?

An NBA legend thinks that he should prioritize winning while also paving the way to play alongside his son.

Paul Pierce says LeBron James should demand a trade

NBA champion and Hall of Fame forward Paul Pierce recently laid out a shocking path for LeBron to take if the Lakers lose early this postseason: demand a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not only would that mean a third stint with his hometown team, the Akron native would simultaneously make a demand of the Cavaliers: that they also draft his son, Bronny James.

It's a wild "what if" scenario, but it's not entirely unrealistic. James wields a lot of influence as the league's most prominent and decorated player. He has also made it clear he wants to play with his son at some point. If the Lakers lose in shocking fashion, a trade request is not totally off the table.

What does all of this mean for the Toronto Raptors? It turns out that the Cleveland Cavaliers' path to acquiring both generations of LeBron James could involve the Raptors getting involved in a blockbuster three-team trade. Let's dig into the details and see what such a wild transaction could look like.