As the Toronto Raptors are one win away from the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers are attempting to move past their drama-filled start to an extremely important offseason.
While former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s latest comments certainly did not help the situation, the Lakers are armed with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a max-contract slot for free agency.
With general manager Rob Pelinka exploring all options with an unexpected top-four draft pick, all of the attention naturally remains on free agency.
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler.”
While there will be conflicting reports leading up to July 1, Butler reportedly would sign with the Lakers if he is offered a max deal, according to Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:
When @ColinCowherd asked me this morning on @TheHerd what star player the Lakers could realistically sign, I didn’t waste any time saying Jimmy Butler. He likes L.A, LeBron James has been in touch with him and he would join the Lakers in a second if they offered him a max deal. pic.twitter.com/wXStzcAFzh
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 24, 2019
When the Philadelphia 76ers traded for Butler and eventually Tobias Harris, there was a scenario where they would have to choose one. If the 76ers prioritize Harris, it would not be surprising to see Butler entertain other offers.
As for the Lakers, it is no secret they will prioritize numerous players ahead of Butler. While Johnson resigned, he revealed he would have targeted Leonard and Kyrie Irving as the team’s second All-Star player based on reports.
If the Lakers eventually sign Butler after striking out on their targets, it would not be the worst decision. Although there may be concerns about Butler’s locker room presence, he is still one of the better players in the league today. In 12 playoff games, he averaged 19.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists.
Through all of the conflicting reports, it appears Butler will at least be an option for Los Angeles. While there should be concerns about the current state of the Lakers, James recruiting players may very well be their best chance to return to championship contention in Year 2.