With free agency one week away, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be major players for the first time since the rebuilding process began in 2013. Unlike four years ago, however, the storied franchise has a legitimate chance of signing LeBron James.
Although the Lakers are in a similar position with significant salary cap space, this time around they also have established a talented young core led by Julius Randle (restricted free agent), Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
Since the conclusion of the 2017-18 NBA season, much of the discussion has been about Los Angeles landing two or three All-Star players. Although the San Antonio Spurs are reportedly reluctant to trade Kawhi Leonard within the Western Conference, James’ decision will likely impact others — including Paul George’s.
According to Mark Heisler of the Southern California News Group, an Eastern Conference general manager believes the 33-year-old James is already working on potential options prior to July 1:
Not that everyone’s necessarily waiting until midnight of July 1, even if the NBA keeps sending out memos on tampering, according to an Eastern Conference GM.
“Meanwhile,” said the GM, “LeBron is doing what we does — calling players on other teams he wants to play with.”
As it currently stands, the Lakers appear to be the favorites to sign James if he ultimately leaves the Cavaliers for the second time.
With Los Angeles providing him the easiest path to joining forces with another All-Star player like George, there is great optimism for the storied franchise heading into free agency.
For president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, this is their first opportunity to show they made calculated decisions when D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. were essentially traded for two max-contract slots.
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