Los Angeles Lakers

Why LeBron James is Changing His Jersey Number and Who Will Wear No. 23 For the Lakers?

With LeBron James reportedly switching jersey numbers from No. 23 to No. 6, and Anthony Davis staying with No. 3, we look into who could wear the iconic number next for the Lakers.

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers
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Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James will reportedly change his jersey number with the Los Angeles Lakers from No. 23 to No. 6 next season.

James has played three seasons with the purple and gold, all while wearing the No. 23. There were reports in the fall of 2019 that James was going to give his No. 23 jersey to Anthony Davis after he was acquired in a trade that offseason.

James even posted a picture of him gifting Davis a No. 23 Lakers jersey with his name on it. However, because Nike, the Lakers official merchandise partner had already made the Lakers No. 23 jersey with James' name on it, the plan was temporarily scrapped.

By the time the next season rolled around, the NBA season was taking place in the middle of a global pandemic and the number change seemed anything but paramount at the time.

Now, with the July release of his new film "Space Jam: A New Legacy" in theaters, James is switching back to No. 6, the number he wears in the movie, and wore in Miami during his four years playing for the Heat.

The corresponding move to No. 6 seems like the perfect time for Davis to now switch to No. 23, the same number he wore in college at Kentucky, and in his first six seasons in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans. But according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Davis is going to stick with his current No. 3 jersey.

It's unsure why Davis has decided not to make the switch to No. 23, and there's still time for him to change his mind. Reportedly, he doesn't want to change after winning his first NBA Championship in the bubble in Orlando, Florida while wearing the No. 3.

In the meantime, we looked into the potential possibilities of who could wear No. 23 for the purple and gold next.

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Current Lakers

Lakers' forward Wes Matthews is a free agent, but during his exit interview he suggested he wanted to return to the Lakers next season and try and win a championship.

"There's no question in my mind and in my heart that I want to run it back," said Matthews. "There's no doubt that I want to run it back."

Whether or not Matthews returns to the Lake Show next season is yet to be seen, but Matthews previously wore the No. 23 during his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks and could don LeBron's old number should he return to the Lakers.

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks
Tom Pennington
Wesley Matthews #23 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates after scoring against the New Orleans Pelicans in the second half at American Airlines Center on November 27, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Another Laker that is a free agent this summer is guard Ben McLemore. McLemore was acquired during the season after he was released by the Houston Rockets. James has ushered tremendous praise for McLemore (who also happens to be a Rich Paul and Klutch Sports client).

The Klutch Sports connection is definitely a reason why McLemore could return to the Lakers next season. Heck, he was even wearing a Space Jam t-shirt and hat during his exit interviews. McLemore previously wore No. 23 in college with Kansas and would certainly have LeBron's blessings should he return to the Lakers and want to wear it.

Michigan v Kansas
Ronald Martinez
Ben McLemore #23 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Free Agents

James could definitely use his old number 23 jersey with the Lakers as a way to court free agents in the offseason.

One such player that has been rumored to the Lakers is Knicks' point guard Derrick Rose. Growing up in Chicago as a fan of Michael Jordan, Rose famously wore the No. 23 jersey in college at Memphis. If he does come to the Lakers, he could go back to that number now that James has surrendered it.

University Of Memphis Basketball Player Derrick Rose
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University Of Memphis Basketball Player DERRICK ROSE. (Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Los Angeles native DeMar DeRozan has been rumored to want to come play for the Lakers for some time. If DeRozan does not take his player option, he could become a free agent and join the purple and gold. DeRozan has always worn No. 10, even during his days with the USC Trojans. However, Jared Dudley currently wears No. 10 for the Lakers and as a player/coach could return next season on a veteran minimum deal. Dudley would easily give his number to DeRozan, but if he doesn't the No. 23 could be an option.

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe
Jared Dudley #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action against the Brooklyn Netsat Barclays Center on January 23, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

It's doubtful the Lakers would have any interest in forward Blake Griffin, but after a midseason resurgence in Brooklyn, the option could certainly be on the table. Griffin lives in Los Angeles in the offseason and still has a home here. Not to mention, his children live here. If Griffin was willing to sign a smaller or minimum deal, he might play for the Lakers after suiting up for the Clippers for the majority of his NBA tenure. Griffin wore the No. 23 jersey at Oklahoma, and then again in Detroit. If he wants to wear it again, it could be used as an incentive to bring the former 2009 No. 1 overall pick back to Hollywood.

Detroit Pistons Media Day
Gregory Shamus
Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons poses for a portrait during the Detroit Pistons Media Day at Pistons Practice Facility on September 30, 2019 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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