With the 2019 NBA Finals over, the Los Angeles Lakers and 28 teams can focus on improving their rosters to dethrone the Toronto Raptors now for the 2019-20 NBA season.
Despite a drama-filled start to the offseason, the Lakers are still armed with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft as well as a max-contract slot available for free agency.
While the Lakers are in trade discussions with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, signing a second All-Star player alongside LeBron James remains an option.
One potential free agent option is Jimmy Butler — who intends to decline his player option with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler intends to decline his player option — barring an unforeseen change of circumstances — yet the Sixers remain adamant about doing whatever it takes to retain the star, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
If Butler opts out, the Lakers reportedly have ‘genuine’ interest in signing him, according to Haynes:
The Los Angeles Lakers have genuine interest in acquiring Butler, sources said.
Through all of the conflicting reports, Butler has been previously linked to Lakers. While it may not matter if the 76ers offer Butler a max contract, James reportedly has already spoken to him as well as Kawhi Leonard.
In addition, Butler reportedly would sign with the Lakers ‘in a second’ if they ultimately offered him a max contract.
Although Butler is not the team’s first option in free agency, he is still one of the better two-way players in the league. As other free agents are expected to re-sign with their teams or sign elsewhere, it would not be the worst scenario.
If the Lakers trade for Davis, there is a scenario where they could then sign a free agent like Butler. While it would be difficult to accomplish, it remains a possibility.
Even though it would be difficult to trade the young core, James and Davis teaming up in Los Angeles creates more opportunities. With the Western Conference seemingly wide open for the first time in five seasons, players may be willing to take less to legitimately compete for championships.