The first 12 hours or so of free agency have not gone as the Los Angeles Lakers would have hoped. Paul George re-signed with Oklahoma City without even taking a meeting with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. We’ve still yet to hear any official word on a meeting between them and LeBron James. Oh and now they have the Philadelphia 76ers to worry about.
Here are a few reports on the impending meeting James’ reps will have with Philadelphia.
For today's meeting, Sixers will meet with LeBron James' reps, sources tell ESPN. James will not attend this meeting. https://t.co/KJGS0xp5Yy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2018
Among the Sixers' planned top selling points to LeBron James' agent Rich Paul today: Philly believes it still has a real chance to win the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 1, 2018
You can expect Sixers’ pitch to LeBron, w/owners Josh Harris & David Blitzer making the case, to center on the culture that Brett Brown has maintained through FO changes/losing, elite defenders in Embiid/Covington and a style of play/firepower that can challenge GS immediately.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2018
On the Sixers and a potential trade for Kawhi Leonard, it’s worth noting that there are several people with Philadelphia who feel confident that Leonard would strongly consider re-signing there next summer if they traded for him.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 1, 2018
To me, the most relevant bit of information here is that James isn’t meeting personally with the Sixers. Maybe the meeting between his reps and Philly goes so well that they agree to another meeting, but it’s hard to see a decision coming before he personally sits down with the team he eventually agrees to a deal with.
Philly’s belief (that they probably leaked, by the way) that they can get a Kawhi Leonard deal put together is to be expected. In fairness, they do have the assets and the Spurs are probably more inclined to accept a trade with their old friend Brett Brown than to give Leonard the destination he wants, so their confidence isn’t groundless.
The Lakers — who are still reportedly the favorites to sign James — can maintain that same confidence regarding Kawhi even if San Antonio would send them Leonard extremely begrudgingly.
Free agency is not even 24 hours old and despite things moving at a fever pitch early on, the Lakers have no choice but to watch this play out. They’re still in the driver’s seat by several reports and it’s hard to think James would completely alter course because a team is confident in itself.
Even as recently as today, executives around the league think James has already chosen to join the Lakers. Yes, Paul George staying in Oklahoma City was a kick straight to the stomach, but the there are quite a few teams that would changes places with the Lakers right now. We just have to see how this plays out.
UPDATE: This is worth noting. Maybe it’s the Spurs leaking this to entice the Sixers and/or Lakers to improve their trade offer or maybe Young, who is close to Kawhi, is relaying information from his camp. Either way, keep an eye on this.