When NBA free agency begins on July 1, the Los Angeles Lakers will have more salary cap space available than any other team in the league. And with that, their sights will be set on stars.
The names most-frequently connected with the Lakers are LeBron James and Paul George, who would instantly transform them from a rebuilding team into a contender. However, timing is going to be critical.
Should James and George opt to sign elsewhere, the Lakers will want to have an opportunity to pivot to other targets. Additionally, Julius Randle, Los Angeles’ breakout player this past season, will be a restricted free agent and could agree to an offer with another team.
If he does, the Lakers will have two days to match the offer sheet or else they will have to watch Randle walk away. Getting an answer from George and James beforehand would help inform their decision with Randle.
Fortunately, it appears as though James will decide on his future rather quickly. Brian Windhorst of ESPN appeared on the “Lowe Post podcast” and said he expects James to have an answer before July 4:
“Everybody will be on holiday on July 4. It will be over by then.”
This corroborates with James reportedly not being expected to take any sort of whirlwind tour of meetings, whether by traveling to prospective teams or hosting them. That’s in stark contrast to his previous brushes with free agency.
The Lakers will be keeping their fingers crossed in hopes that James does decide to make the leap for Los Angeles. Bringing him in would end a free agent drought that has lasted for years, and give the team a marquee star to build around once again.
Rumors of where James will ultimately land are flying and at this point nothing is certain. Fortunately, the Lakers shouldn’t have to wait too long when free agency begins on July 1.
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