With the 2019 NBA Draft and free agency slowly approaching, LeBron James is expected to be extremely active in helping the Los Angeles Lakers.
After former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s resignation and all the front office drama that has followed to begin the offseason, James’ pitch is perhaps their best chance at landing a second All-Star player.
As there have been conflicting reports throughout the 2018-19 NBA season, James is reportedly concerned about how the current state of the Lakers will impact free agency — even before Johnson’s latest comments.
Despite the circumstances, James has already begun recruiting Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“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.”
Since there are no tampering rules when it comes to players as Windhorst mentioned, it appears James is already getting a head start. While Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are one win away from the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Although the 76ers traded Robert Covington and Dario Saric for Butler, they will likely have to choose between him or Tobias Harris when July 1 approaches. As for Leonard, the narrative has changed from the Lakers to the Los Angeles Clippers if he does not re-sign with the Raptors.
Regardless of Johnson’s resignation, it is no secret they are hoping for a second All-Star player via free agency or trade. After landing the No. 4 pick, general manager Rob Pelinka revealed the Lakers will explore all options with an unexpected ‘powerful asset.’
While there are still more questions than answers following head coach Frank Vogel’s introductory press conference, the Lakers are still in a position to significantly improve the roster heading into Year 2 with James. If Los Angeles is unsuccessful in free agency, they will likely have trade options.
Highlighted by Anthony Davis, the Lakers reportedly could pursue Bradley Beal if the New Orleans Pelicans truly do not want to trade him to Los Angeles. And if the Washington Wizards do not want to trade Beal, Kyle Lowry reportedly could be an option as he only has one year remaining on his original three-year, $100 million deal.