As free agency nears, general manager Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers have made themselves as attractive as possible in hopes of signing a third All-Star player.
Highlighted by the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, Pelinka successfully cleared enough cap space to re-establish their max-contract slot on June 30.
And as of right now, it appears Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler are all realistic options for them.
However, if the Lakers are unable to sign Leonard or Irving, they reportedly would ‘rather split’ up their $32.5 million then, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“For the Lakers, my understanding is they’ll spend that $32 million on a max player if it is Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving. If it’s not one of those two players, things get a little bit more complicated… they rather split it up. There’s some discussion about Jimmy Butler, but it’s really Kawhi or Kyrie Irving.”
While there will be conflicting reports, it appears the Lakers are a ‘true threat’ to sign Leonard — not the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Marc Stein of New York Times:
Things change fast in #thisleague: With free agency a day and change away, it's the Lakers who have convinced Las Vegas — and an increasing number of league insiders — that they are LA's true threat to limiting Kawhi Leonard's Raptors career to a single season. Not the Clippers
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 29, 2019
As Leonard and Irving have been linked to Kevin Durant, he will miss the 2019-20 NBA season due to an Achilles injury. While Durant is one of the greatest players in NBA history, the idea of wasting a season to play with him is difficult.
With Davis and LeBron James, either player would have an opportunity to compete for championships for at least the next 2-3 seasons and form arguably the greatest Big 3 ever.
However, if Leonard or Irving do not sign with the Lakers, Butler does deserve some consideration. After these three players, Pelinka and company would be better off signing 2-3 role players to provide some much-needed depth.
As it stands, the Lakers have been linked to centers and three-point shooters. While Davis is willing to play center, most of his minutes should be at power forward.
And after Year 1 with James, there appears to be an understanding of surrounding him with shooters instead of ‘tough-minded’ playmakers to maximize his skill set.