When Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka made the D’Angelo Russell trade it was with one goal in mind: To make themselves available in case LeBron James and/or another superstar wanted to team up with their Los Angeles Lakers. Well, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, this could very well play out in the coming months.
Here’s how he puts it:
“The most intriguing scenario remains him partnering with LeBron James on Los Angeles because Paul George alone doesn’t make them a championship contender, but partnering with LeBron ... there’s a fairly easy pathway for the Lakers to get that salary cap space. That’s going to be a conversation or conversations those guys are going to have once we get toward July.”
Frankly, George and LeBron have probably had a conversation like this already. I have beachfront property in Arizona to sell anyone who honestly believes players wait until the end of their final season under contract to start figuring out who they want to play with and how best to make that happen. This is no different.
George’s season in Oklahoma City did not live up to his or fans’ expectations. A team with an MVP, another star and a fading one like Carmelo Anthony had higher aspirations than a first-round exit at the hand of the Utah Jazz. It would have taken quite a bit to convince George to stick around given his reported interest in the Lakers, and that just doesn’t quite seem like enough.
James is in yet another finals series as the heavy underdog as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and while they made moves to try to make him less so, Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood have been disasters and it isn’t like Larry Nance, Jr. is going to keep anyone in Cleveland.
So the question becomes how close the Lakers can get to legitimate title contention this summer. They have a ways to go to become as convincing a spot as Houston or Philadelphia might be, given the star power already in town, but the Lakers have a ton of flexibility — both in terms of their ability to sign a free agent or two and in their ability to surround said superstar talent with either another star or the right roles players to make it all work.
George and James joining forces in L.A. is still by no means a guarantee, but it seems more possible with reports like this.