Speaking on The Sedano Show, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times and ESPNs Dave McMenamin both said they have reason to believe the Lakers are skating on thin ice with LeBron, who could feasibly want to part ways with the Lakers prematurely should they fail to put together a championship-contending roster in the very near future. Here are the comments worth noting from the show:
Bill Plaschke: Im hearing that if they whiff on free agency, and if they whiff on a trade, which I dont know how likely that is, but if that happens, theyve got big trouble with LeBron. I mean the LeBron era could be over before it starts here.
Dave McMenamin: Everyone I speak to associated with LeBron, they are holding the rope for now, and all they can do is be positive because this is going to be a crucial five-week stretch. But on the other side of that, if its July 10th in Los Angeles and its Nic Vucevic [that the Lakers have had to settle for], or whomever does not meet the criterion of bringing in a star who can make them an immediate contender, you could only imagine where things could go.
Plaschke: I heard this for the first time yesterday, somebody very connected said You know what, if they whiff, LeBrons going to say either Im out of here or get me out of here, or the Lakers just might as well just get him out of here. So this is huge.
Before we go any further, lets be clear that LeBron is under contract with the Lakers for at least the next two seasons (the final year of his four-year deal is a player option, meaning he can opt out of his contract after three years in the summer of 2021). If he were to become unhappy and for whatever reason want out of Los Angeles, the Lakers wouldnt have to grant him his wish. Technically.
But we know how these things go. We know the pressure that comes with the threat of losing a star player for nothing, and we surely understand the power and influence that LeBron and his power camp wield. If they want out, and they make it known, and they start pressing their panic-inducing buttons, the Lakers are going to be feeling some serious heat.
Beyond that, lets look at this practically. Yes, trading LeBron sounds outrageous, but if the Lakers dont add anyone of consequence this summer, theyre not going to be a championship contender. They might not even be a playoff team. They could, theoretically, bail on next season and wait for Anthony Davis to potentially, hopefully, come to them as a free agent in 2020, but thats a big wild card.
If Davis gets moved somewhere else this summer and likes that situation enough to sign long-term — say in Boston, or New York — what do the Lakers do then? Risk spending the duration of LeBrons contract, which was supposed to put them in the championship picture, topping out as a second-tier playoff team with nothing significant to show in the summer of 2020, when he could just walk away for nothing?
If the Lakers dont score big this summer, they simply have to start thinking beyond the LeBron James era, as premature as that may sound after the first year of a deal. That doesnt mean they have to do anything. But they have to think about it. And if LeBron and his camp start pressing the issue even more, well, you can read the handwriting. To say this is a big summer in the land of Purple and Gold is an understatement.
The Cavs have made their willingness to help facilitate deals for teams that are looking to build talent in return for future assets known. This kind of blockbuster haul could land the Cavs quite a bit of return if they do express willingness to take on some of Washington’s huge contracts so that the Lakers don’t have to.
Would keeping LeBron just to win a few more games and potentially make it to the first or second round of the playoffs be worth giving up a trade package that could absolutely stock their future?
More From Silver Screen and Roll Most Read Jimmy Butler wore purple and gold shoes on Instagram, so let the speculation about him joining the Lakers in free agency begin Jimmy Butler did all he could to make sure everyone saw what color shoes he was wearing on Instagram. This definitely means hell be signing with the Lakers in free agency. Kawhi Leonard isnt just a transcendent star, hes also a perfect fit for what the Lakers need If Kawhi Leonard signed with the Lakers this summer, hed obviously improve the team a ton, but theres certain aspects to his game that hes done exceedingly well at in the playoffs that the Lakers struggled with last season. Heres what they are. Tom Thibodeau confirms he wasnt interested in being a Lakers assistant coach Tom Thibodeau wants to be a head coach again, but despite rumors that Tyronn Lue wanted him for his Lakers staff from a few months ago, it doesnt sound like he wants to go the assistant coaching route to get there. Find Tickets Los Angeles area events happening soon:
Twitter LogoCopy Link IconNBARanking LeBron James' Ideal Superstar Teammates Next SeasonGreg Swartz@@CavsGregBRTwitter LogoCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJune 3, 2019 CommentsComment Bubble IconRanking LeBron James' Ideal Superstar Teammates Next Season0 of 7
Now, sacrifice is a really weird concept that involves commitment from everyone involved. Maybe Irving would be more open to sacrificing parts of his game to someone he considers more of a peer than Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Irving has already won a championship alongside LeBron James so at the very least, he would understand the ends to those sacrifices a lot more tangibly than he did when Brad Stevens was trying to get him to take Terry Rozier under his wing.
Despite a nightmare 37-45 season that left LeBron James missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a good position to acquire another star this summer.
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With about $32.5 million in projected cap space, the Lakers can afford a max free agent. With the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, along with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, they have enough trade ammunition to go after some of the biggest names on the market as well.
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Finding players who can fit alongside James should be easy. Weve seen how well hes played (and won) with dynamic guards (Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving) as well as offensive-minded big men (Chris Bosh, Kevin Love).
Even taking into account all of Ball’s injury concerns and off-the court baggage, he would would have been the best point guard the Suns have had since Eric Bledsoe upon arrival. Additionally, Ball would have been the perfect complement to Devin Booker, who signed a five-year, $158 million extension with Phoenix last summer.
While Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard will be this summers biggest free agents, neither one seems destined to sign with the Lakers and play second fiddle to James. Instead, were looking at players the Lakers have at least a reasonable chance at signing or trading for due to their desire to win/and or land a max contract, all while being OK sharing the court with James.
This is how the Lakers superstar big board should stack up, assuming neither Durant nor Leonard wants to hop on board.