After five years of rebuilding, the Los Angeles Lakers have created options for themselves. While the recent focus as on the 2018 NBA Draft, the team has also been linked to three of the league’s best players in LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
As James and George are poise to become free agents on July 1, Leonard reportedly met with head coach Gregg Popovich to discuss his future with the San Antonio Spurs.
Along with Leonard still wanting out from the model franchise, he reportedly will inform teams he intends to sign with the Lakers or Clippers in 2019 free agency — even if they trade for him.
At this point, the Lakers have leverage, but there are challenges in trading with the Spurs. However, if Leonard eventually made his way to his hometown, it would have quite the impact on James’ decision, according to Sam Amick of USA Today:
If Leonard found his way to Laker Land, where he would likely make it clear that he’d re-sign as a free agent in the summer of 2019, it is widely believed that it would significantly increase the Lakers’ chances of landing LeBron James in free agency this summer. And Leonard, quite clearly, had decided it was time to move on after this season that was so full of mystery and tumult.
Throughout the 2017-18 NBA season, the Lakers have been considered an option for James because of the post-basketball career opportunities.
If president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are able to sign George and/or trade for Leonard, the on-court opportunity to win championships would be difficult for James to pass on.
With an opportunity to form a big three of their own that would challenge the Golden State Warriors, it will be interesting to see what path the Lakers ultimately take. As a two-year window has been established, continuing to develop the young core remains an option.
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