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LeBron James cryptic tweets timeline: What history of social media posts mean for Lakers at trade deadline

The Lakers’ 2023-24 season is falling apart. And while there’s no opportune time for things to unravel, some might say that the timing of Los Angeles’ misfortunes couldn’t be better.

With just a week left before the 2024 trade deadline, the Lakers have a losing record, LeBron James is frustrated and rumors are running rampant. Adding fuel to the fire is a simple, one-character post from James on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

As the Lakers reeled following a loss to the Hawks, James took to X to post an hourglass emoji. The emoji, which signifies that some unit of time is up, is the latest social media post from James that could be labeled as being cryptic.

What does it all mean? As the world attempts to decipher James’ emoji usage, look back at the history of his cryptic social media posts.

MORE: Ranking trade targets for the Lakers, from Zach LaVine to Bruce Brown

LeBron James calls out Kevin Love

What it meant

James’ first season back in Cleveland didn’t exactly get out to an ideal start. After opening the season with a 19-20 record, the Cavs used a 12-game win streak to surge up the standings, but apparently, the team wasn’t on one accord. James took to the social media platform to tweet a not-so-subtle shot at Love, who had taken a major step back in his new role with Cleveland after starring in Minnesota.

There was an element of pettiness to James’ post as the “fit out” wording referenced something Love had said before the season. The timing of James’ post was also intentional as it came after Love called his first season in Cleveland “one of the toughest situations I’ve had to deal with.”

After initially denying it, James admitted the post was about Love.

What happened

James and Love worked things out. There were growing pains all around but the two developed a strong pairing during their time as Cavaliers teammates. After Love’s time in the playoffs ended prematurely in 2015 due to an injury, he bounced back the next season as he, James and Kyrie Irving led Cleveland to its first-ever NBA title in 2016.

Fittingly, Love was the first person James embraced when the final buzzer rang in the title-clinching game. The two remain close friends despite both moving on to new teams.

LeDaVinci Code

What it meant

Who knows?

In early March 2016, James began tweeting a series of introspective messages, including the above post about chemistry. The chemistry post came several weeks after David Blatt was fired as Cleveland’s head coach and the Cavs looked to figure things out for their playoff push.

James told NBA insider Chris Haynes that he was having fun with “Da Vinci Code” posts and that more tweets were to come. James later told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that the tweets were, “Just my mind working. I got a beautiful mind and I want to use it sometimes in a social manner.”

What happened

Whether or not the tweets were explicitly basketball-related may never be known, but the Cavaliers’ chemistry certainly reached an all-time high during the postseason, where they became the first-ever team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals. 

MORE: LeBron James sets all-time record for NBA All-Star selections

Finding motivation from scouts and executives

What it meant

James caught wind of Tim Bontemps’ offseason survey of NBA executives and scouts on ESPN. Ahead of the 2021-22 season, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant each received five votes as the league’s best player.

After averaging 25.0 points, 7.8 assists and 7.7 rebounds in an injury-marred 2020-21 campaign, James felt slighted.

What happened 

The Lakers struggled mightily and missed out on the postseason, but James turned in an All-NBA season, averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists over 56 games. 

LeBron James gets introspective

What it meant

Ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, the Lakers were heavily linked to Irving, who was seeking a trade out of Brooklyn. Around 3 p.m. on Feb. 5, reports began to surface that Irving would be traded to the Mavericks to team up with Luka Doncic.

No less than five hours later would James post three words that were seemingly related to Los Angeles’ inability to get a deal done for Irving. Was it actually about Irving? Maybe. Why didn’t a deal get done? Maybe it’s LeBron.

What happened 

The Lakers pivoted and had a pretty successful trade deadline, acquiring Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba, Davon Reed, D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt in a series of team-altering moves.

Reed didn’t make LA’s playoff roster, but its deadline moves played a large role in the team’s run to the 2023 Western Conference Finals.

Addressing Michael Malone from Europe

What it meant

After leading the Nuggets to the 2023 NBA title, Malone made an appearance on the Pat McAfee show, where he evidently made a play on James’ comments about contemplating retirement taking the spotlight from the Nuggets’ conference finals win. 

“Speaking of the Lakers, I just wanted you guys to know, this is breaking news: I’m thinking about retiring, so don’t tell anybody,” Malone joked.

James, who spent five seasons with Malone in Cleveland, took to Instagram to seemingly react to the joke, using his caption to respond.

What happened

Not much. The Lakers circled their calendars to face Malone and the Nuggets on opening night. LA came up short on Denver’s ring night and the two teams won’t meet again until Feb. 8, which, ironically is the trade deadline date.

Time is ticking

What it meant

It could mean many things. Is James’ time up? Has he run out of patience? Is he referring to head coach Darvin Ham or another teammate? With the trade deadline looming, all are valid explanations.

What happened 

Well, that remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

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