With free agency nearing, Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are looking to execute their plan. After the Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. within the past year, they have enough salary cap space to sign two max-contract players.
Although Johnson and Pelinka have established a two-year window, the immediate focus is on LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard (via trade) this summer.
As George is undecided on his future with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs reportedly being reluctant to trade Leonard within the Western Conference, this could have a major impact on James’ decision.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, there is mounting pressure on the Lakers heading into free agency:
As LeBron James remains hesitant to be the first superstar to decide on the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, pressure is mounting for the Lakers front office to execute a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire disgruntled All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, league sources told ESPN.
Similar to the George situation last year, the Lakers have a major decision to make. If Leonard truly wants to play for his hometown team regardless if he gets traded, Johnson and Pelinka can wait until next year’s free agency.
However, it would give Leonard’s new team time to persuade him to re-sign. Oklahoma City took that gamble, and signs are pointing to it possibly paying off.
Regardless of what happens in free agency, the Lakers have options and at minimum are considered a free agent destination once again.
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