Earlier this offseason, there has been a growing belief that LeBron James and Paul George will consider joining the Los Angeles Lakers once they become free agents next summer. The rumors started when the Lakers named Magic Johnson as the president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as the general manager. However, with the improvements that happened with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, will James and George still leave?
After the Cavaliers failed to defend their title, LeBron James was rumored to leave Cleveland for the second time in 2018 free agency with the Lakers as his next destination. The acquisition of the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick is expected to help the Cavaliers speed up the rebuilding process. However, Cleveland revealed that they are willing to part ways with the potential lottery pick if the right deal comes along, showing how serious they are in convincing James to stay.
The arrival of Dwyane Wade may also affect James’ decision next summer. Wade is set to join LeBron in the starting lineup as both superstars aim to capture another NBA championship title together. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of the busiest teams this offseason. The acquisition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony strengthened their chance of dominating the deep Western Conference and match the Golden State Warriors’ “Super Death Lineup.”
The two blockbuster trades also convinced Russell Westbrook to finally sign the extension with the Thunder. When Westbrook inked a new contract, George gave a major hint regarding his free agency plan and said that “the decision will be easier to make for myself.” The major moves the Cavaliers and the Thunder made this offseason may have a huge effect on the Lakers plan to acquire both George and James in 2018.
In a response to fan with the same insight, David Aldridge of NBA.com revealed that the improvements with the Cavs and the Thunder may affect the decision of Paul George and LeBron James in 2018. However, this does not mean that both superstars are 100 percent sure to stay, entering the possibility that they could still sign with the Lakers next summer.
“Well, there’s a lot to unpack there. While George will now give OKC a genuine listen next summer, that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to return. I’d still give the Lakers a very strong chance at getting him, whether that’s with LeBron or anyone else. As for LBJ, I think it’s still more likely than not that he leaves, but that also doesn’t mean he’s a lock for the Lakers if he does,” Aldridge said.
The outcome of the 2017-18 NBA season will play a major role on what will happen in the summer of 2018. LeBron James and Paul George are only expected to stay with their respective teams if they win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Meanwhile, the Lakers should show why incoming free agents should consider playing for them next season.
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