While it was clear the Los Angeles Lakers intended to pursue LeBron James once 2018 NBA free agency began, the general sense was the team would need to have a second star lined up in order to convince him to sign.
That was widely believed to be Paul George, but he didn’t so much as take a meeting with the Lakers before agreeing to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Meanwhile, in the final days leading up to July 1, it was reported James contacted Kevin Durant to discuss joining forces on the Lakers.
In the time after Stephen A. Smith revealed as much on ESPN’s “First Take,” it was refuted by sources close to both Durant and James.
Now, Durant has spoken out about the topic himself, categorically denying any such recruitment took place, per Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group:
Did James do that? Durant: “Hell no.”
“That was all false. All false. 100 percent false,” Durant told Bay Area News Group. “He didn’t talk about none of that stuff.”
The report corroborated one that indicated James was reaching out to players throughout the league that would be interested in playing alongside. And while it seemed to be a bit of a stretch, Durant and James becoming teammates wasn’t completely beyond the realm of possibility.
The two are friendly and have worked out together on several occasions. One such instance led to them recording a rap song during the 2011-12 NBA lockout. Even with Durant denying that he and James discussed signing with the Lakers, it presumably won’t squash speculation moving forward.
With James having committed to the Lakers on a long-term contract, and Durant due to become a free agent next year, there already is anticipation L.A. will pursue him with their max-contract slot.
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