When the Los Angeles Lakers began shedding salary cap space, it was perceived to be a clear indication they hoped to make quite the splash in 2018 free agency. The class is headlined by LeBron James and Paul George, with DeMarcus Cousins on the periphery of the picture.
Where any of the three will ultimately sign is anyone’s guess. Though, the Lakers figure to be a significant factor with James and George. The same may have applied to Cousins had he not suffered a torn Achilles.
According to Mark Heisler of the Southern California News Group, the Lakers are viewed as a heavy favorite to sign James this summer:
The Lakers, consensus favorites in the LeBron Derby with their two maximum salary slots, needed a bunch of things to go right to get to this position.
A few positives that went in Los Angeles’ favor this season was the progress shown by the young roster, and the front office freeing up enough salary cap space to sign two max-level free agents.
Reports over recent weeks and months have ranged from indicating the Lakers are among a select number of teams James will consider joining, to the team’s focus lying squarely on James and George.
James’ praise for Lonzo Ball and the development the young Lakers showed this season further fueled speculation. Season-ticket holder and attorney Jacob Emrani paid for ‘#LABron’ billboards to go up in the Los Angeles area as a means to recruit James.