With enough cap room for two max-level free agents this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to go after the biggest fish in free agency — including the biggest fish there is, LeBron James.
Down 2-0 to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, James’ streak of consecutive NBA Finals appearances could end at seven and it wouldn’t be because of a lack of effort on James’ part.
Through 13 playoff games with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, James is averaging 33.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. His latest display of greatness came in the form of a 40-point triple-double on Tuesday against the Celtics, but the Cavaliers still got blown out by 13 points.
James could stick around and try to take his band of misfits to the Finals next year, but it’s looking like a near guarantee he leaves his hometown team again this summer, according to a report by Ken Berger of Bleacher Report.
“When LeBron leaves,” one Eastern Conference executive told Bleacher Report, choosing an interesting qualifier (not “if” but “when”), “that trade will be devastating financially. A lot of money in [George] Hill and Clarkson, and you have to pay Nance.”
While this might sound like great news for Lakers fans who are hoping James takes his throne to the City of Angels, an anonymous NBA agent told Berger that James likely won’t land with the Lakers this summer.
“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?”
From what it sounds like, the unnamed agent is implying the Lakers won’t go after James because they’re holding out for Leonard next summer. However, there’s a real chance Leonard doesn’t even hit the open market next summer as he is eligible for the “super max” extension with the San Antonio Spurs this upcoming season.
Also, does anyone actually believe the Lakers would say no to a meeting with LeBron James? We’re talking about a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years passing on the league’s most dominant force. That would be like me turning down a date with Beyonce because I feel good about my chances with Rihanna.
James will have a little extra time to think about where he will play next season if the Cavaliers get swept by the Celtics. If the Lakers are lucky, they’ll have the chance to be in the same room as James this summer.