NBA Rumors: Reluctance To Play Alongside LeBron James May Force Lakers To Look At Second-Tier Free Agents Such As Khris Middleton
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Well before the 2018-19 NBA season begun, there was already plenty of speculation over who the Los Angeles Lakers would pursue to pair with LeBron James.

While most looked ahead to 2019 free agency, an in-season opportunity presented itself when Anthony Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Lakers aggressively pursued a trade for the All-Star big man but were unsuccessful.

Beyond acquiring a transcendent talent to put next to James, trading for Davis was viewed as having a domino effect come free agency. Specifically with Kyrie Irving and Klay Thomspon.

That’s all the more imperative considering recent rumblings that top free agents are hesitant to possibly join forces with James, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

There are whispers around the league that neither Jimmy Butler nor Kawhi Leonard wants to play with LeBron, and sources I’ve talked to would be shocked if Klay Thompson left Golden State. That might leave the Lakers with Walker or Middleton as their top remaining free-agent targets. If I’m the Hornets, that possibility would have me worried.

As of now, the Lakers’ top targets are likely Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Thompson. However, there has been plenty suggesting none of the three are keen on signing with the Lakers.

If the Lakers were to strike out on Durant, Leonard and Thompson, the other options will be interesting. The thought of Kemba Walker and James teaming up surely is intriguing, but for now, the focus remains on the season at hand.

James came to Los Angeles knowing that no other superstar was joining him at the time, and he was fully on board with that. But the Lakers have struggled and now face a reality that may not include the playoffs.

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