NBA Rumors: LeBron James Not Signing Because Lakers Can Sign Kawhi Leonard...

NBA Rumors: LeBron James Not Signing Because Lakers Can Sign Kawhi Leonard In 2019 Free Agency

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

As the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a 2-0 deficit against the Boston Celtics in the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, there continues to be speculation about LeBron James leaving his hometown for the second time in his career.

When president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka took over the front office, the Los Angeles Lakers made strides to clear salary cap space to sign two max-contract players in James and Paul George this summer.

While their plan has since extended to 2019 free agency, it could have major implications on James’ upcoming decision, according to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:

“He’s not going to the Lakers, because they know they can get Kawhi [Leonard] next summer,” the agent said. “If I’m the Sixers, I have to think about what it means to bring in LeBron and take the ball out of Ben Simmons’ hands. Simmons is useless when he’s not controlling the ball. Is LeBron going to give up the ball?”

While it would end the rebuilding process, the Lakers have established a young core and do not have to rely on signing two players this summer.

If James re-signs with Cleveland or goes elsewhere, Los Angeles could sign George and re-sign Julius Randle. The next step would be waiting to sign Kawhi Leonard the following year, but they run the risk of the San Antonio Spurs trading him and/or Leonard re-signing with his new team.

Although this is a dream scenario over the next two offseasons, the storied franchise ultimately has options for the first time since the rebuilding process began in 2014. After a nine-game improvement in Year 2 under head coach Luke Walton, the Lakers showed they are just a couple players from truly contending.

Before all the drama begins on July 1, the focus for the Lakers is the 2018 NBA Draft. Despite losing the No. 10 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade, Los Angeles still has the Nos. 25 and 47 picks.

Based on their recent history, the Lakers have done extremely well with their late first to early second round selections.