The top prize of the 2016 free agency class, and the top target for the Los Angeles Lakers, is believed to be Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. That thought comes with a caveat, however, as Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James can opt-out of his contract as well, though it is widely assumed that he will remain in Cleveland.
James’ number one priority is delivering a championship to the city of Cleveland, so the odds of him leaving for anywhere are extremely slim. Of course, Magic Johnson believes the Lakers should reach out to James anyway, just in case.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith also believes that James is unlikely to go anywhere this off-season, but on the latest edition of ESPN First Take, he noted that if James did win a championship with the Cavaliers, him leaving for Los Angeles could be possible:
“Chances are he’s not thinking about doing any such thing before delivering a championship to Cleveland. But once he delivers a championship to Cleveland, all bets are off. I would still say the odds on favorite is for him to remain in Cleveland, but if he delivers the Cavs a championship this year, it’s entirely possible that LeBron could elect to go to someplace like Los Angeles.”
Smith added that it would take a great situation in Los Angeles and him winning a championship in Cleveland just to entertain the possibility:
“His lack of infinity for Los Angeles and Hollywood and all of that stuff has dissipated dramatically from what I’m told, and if the Lakers were aimed in the right direction and they had the right situation, and he delivered a championship to Cleveland, sure he would entertain it.”
In all honesty, the chances of this happening are probably next to none. There are a lot of variables outlined just for LeBron to seriously consider joining the Lakers and even if he did deliver a ring to Cleveland this season, there are plenty of teams with salary cap space so the competition would be very stiff. Not to mention LeBron would be completely vilified if he left Cleveland a second time.
Magic Johnson is right in believing that the Lakers should reach out just in case as it can’t hurt to find out what is possible or not. That being said, LeBron to the Lakers is likely a pipe dream and the Lakers will be spending their time focusing on players more likely to actually join the team.