Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) argues a call with the referee as Lakers forwards Brandon Ingram (14) and Kyle Kuzma (0) talk to each other in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) argues a call with the referee as Lakers forwards Brandon Ingram (14) and Kyle Kuzma (0) talk to each other in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Cocky LeBron’s shameless NBA brag

LEBRON James' absence has given the top teams in the Eastern Conference motivation to go all in - says LeBron James.

James gave the 76ers, Bucks and Raptors high marks for their aggression during the trade deadline, pointing to his move out west as one reason those teams have been so active.

"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."

James had been to eight consecutive finals while playing in the East, a streak that is likely to end with the young Lakers. Especially since they were unable to make much noise at the deadline themselves, despite the persistent Anthony Davis rumours. Los Angeles sits at 28-27 after a thrilling Thursday night win over the Celtics, but are still on the outside of the playoff race.

After trading Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac to the Clippers for Mike Muscala on Thursday, they are looking to fill their final roster spot amid NBA buyouts. Carmelo Anthony is one possibility.

In the Eastern Conference, the Raptors traded for Marc Gasol, the 76ers added Tobias Harris and the Bucks picked up Nikola Mirotic.

"S**t, I was excited seeing all the moves they made in the East today," James said. "Those match-ups in the second round, in the Eastern Conference finals, that s**t is gonna be crazy. It's gonna be fun to watch."

LeBron James has cited his move to the west as a massive factor in the recent NBA trade period.
LeBron James has cited his move to the west as a massive factor in the recent NBA trade period.

MAGIC MEETING AFTER DEADLINE FLOP

Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson plans to meet with players in Philadelphia this weekend after weeks of trade rumours wreaked havoc on team chemistry, according to a report.

Much of the team's roster - including Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ivica Zubac and Josh Hart, as well as draft picks - were said to be floated in trade negotiations for Pelicans star Anthony Davis.

Johnson plans to instruct players to focus down the stretch, while emphasising that the NBA is a business, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He hopes the talk will promote an open dialogue and will attempt to speak to anybody on the team with concerns, the report said.

Negotiations for Davis played out publicly, plummeting the team into a slump that culminated in Tuesday's 42-point loss to the Indiana Pacers - the biggest defeat of LeBron James' career.

James has, at points, not-so-subtly announced his desire for the Lakers to acquire Davis. James' longtime agent and friend, Rich Paul, also represents Davis.

Davis was fined $50,000 after Paul publicly revealed his demand to be traded.

In the end, the team made two minor trades near the deadline. It sent Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley to the Clippers for Mike Muscala and acquired Reggie Bullock from the Pistons for Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2021 second-round pick.

The Lakers rebounded after the deadline on Friday (AEDT) with a 129-128 win over the Celtics. They remain in 10th place in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind the No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers.