LeBron James has at least one theory as to why teams in the East made big moves ahead of Thursday’s (Friday, Manila time) trade deadline.
The Lakers star explained that the Raptors, Bucks and 76ers made big changes to their roster in an effort to make a run for the NBA Finals at the end of the season, more notably because “they ain’t gotta go through” James anymore now that he’s in the Western Conference with the Lakers.
“Those top teams in the East, yeah, they’re going for it,” James told The Athletic. “Toronto is going for it, Milwaukee’s going for it, Philly. Boston believes they can do it, too. They know they ain’t gotta go through Cleveland anymore.
“Everybody in the East thinks they can get to the Finals because they ain’t gotta go through me.”
The 76ers started by acquiring Tobias Harris from the Clippers and then added Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis to their bench at the deadline after acquiring Jimmy Butler earlier this season. The Raptors added center Marc Gasol to play alongside Kawhi Leonard, while the Bucks traded for Nikola Mirotic to compliment Giannis Antetokounmpo.
James revealed he’s already excited to watch how the Eastern Conference playoffs unfold with the new additions.
“Sh—, I was excited seeing all the moves they made in the East today,” James said. “Those matchups in the second round, in the Eastern Conference finals, that sh— is gonna be crazy. It’s gonna be fun to watch.”
The Bucks hold a 40-13 record, the best not only in the Eastern Conference but also in the NBA. The Raptors are second in the East, sitting 40-16, while the 76ers are 34-20 and fifth.