With NBA free agency winding down on Thursday afternoon, the biggest sports free agent news dropped like a bombshell as FC Barcelona announced that superstar forward Lionel Messi would not be returning to the club in an official release.
Messi is to Barcelona what Kobe Bryant was to the Lakers, and his departure comes at a time when he’s securely on the back end of his prime while still being the game’s greatest talent on any given night. His incredible vision and passing are only surpassed by his ability to score goals at any moment from anywhere on the pitch.
This certainly all begs the obvious question: Should the Lakers sign Lionel Messi?
While the team did land Russell Westbrook this summer to play point guard, Messi’s ability to score and create would be valuable on the court. Last season for Barcelona, Messi moved from winger to play more centrally, showcasing a willingness to sacrifice for the team.
He would come in with a similar pedigree as Chris Paul, with neither having yet won an NBA title.
At a spry 34 years old, Messi would lower the average age of the Lakers’ free agent signings this summer. Similar to LeBron James, though, age has had little impact on Messi as he is on track for his seventh Ballon d’Or, the global soccer equivalent of an MVP award.
He also has connections to the Lakers in the past. He owns a Lakers jersey, has a history of playing in Los Angeles and was once in a set of actually funny commercials with Kobe himself for Turkish Airlines and the video game FIFA.
Few athletes in the world can relate to Messi’s star power, and James would be one of them. James is set to pass $1 billion in career earnings this year, joining a select group of athletes to do while still active, alongside Messi. Surely, those two would have some things in common to talk about.
LeBron James will pass $1 billion in career earnings this year, becoming only the 5th athlete to accomplish it while still active.— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) January 29, 2021
— Tiger Woods
— Floyd Mayweather
— Cristiano Ronaldo
— Lionel Messi
(H/T @kbadenhausen) pic.twitter.com/GF05xVm3XX
The big question in signing Messi would be money, with the Lakers only able to offer minimum deals and Messi being one of the most expensive players in the world. However, Messi was just willing to take a pay cut to continue to play for Barcelona, so it’s easy to imagine that the chance to sip wine alongside Jared Dudley and discuss Marvel villains with Dwight Howard would be too enticing to pass up.
In a star-driven league, the chance to sign a player like Lionel Messi does not come along often. He could be the final piece in the Lakers bid for banner No. 18.