Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is expected to be one of the most coveted superstars in the 2018 free agent market. Multiple signs are pointing out that he will leave Cleveland for the second time and chase another NBA championship title somewhere else. According to the latest NBA rumors, James and Nerlens Noel are "plotting ways to end up together" in 2018, with the Los Angeles Lakers emerging as the top destination.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have revealed their plan to sign two superstars in the summer of 2018. They started by trading contracts that will affect their salary cap flexibility. After dumping Timofey Mozgov, the Lakers are currently exploring ways to unload Luol Deng.
Since the offseason, LeBron James and Paul George emerged as the Lakers' top targets in 2018 free agency. However, George's decision will depend on the Oklahoma City Thunder's performance this season. If they at least enter the Western Conference Finals, it's highly likely that he'll re-sign with the Thunder.
Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that James will be heading to Los Angeles next summer. According to the Los Angeles Times, the 32-year-old small forward bought his second home in L.A. worth $23 million. Some people took it as a major hint that James will sign with the Lakers in 2018.While Paul George remains undecided in his free agency decision, another incoming free agent is linked to LeBron James and the Lakers. According to Dallas Basketball, James and Nerlens Noel are planning to team up in 2018.
"Where is Noel going to have the surgery? In Cleveland, hometown of LeBron James and a headquarters for agent Rich Paul, who reps both LeBron and Noel and yeah, it's kind of an open secret now that the fellas are plotting ways to end up together, maybe next July 1 via free agency to the Los Angeles Lakers."
Signing Nerlens Noel makes sense for the Lakers, especially with both Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut hitting the free agency market next summer. According to NBC Sports, Noel's defense and athleticism will complement the transition skills of LeBron James and Lonzo Ball. However, unlike Lopez, Noel is a non-shooter, which will greatly affect the Lakers' floor-spacing.
With Noel expected to demand a max salary, it remains questionable if the Lakers will set him as their main priority next to James. Having James on their team means the Lakers are ready to win the title next season. Noel may have the potential to become one of the best centers in the league, but the Lakers will surely look for a better player who will be available in the free agency market. Other potential targets for the Lakers include DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, and DeAndre Jordan.