NBA Rumors: Lakers, Rockets Target LeBron James In Next Year’s Free Agency

Matt SlocumAP Images

The NBA rumor mill could not stop churning, especially with Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James having top billing. According to the latest speculation, the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets are both keen on pursuing the three-time NBA champion in the 2018 free-agency period.

Lakers To Clear More Cap Space In Preparation For LeBron James’ Arrival?

It is no secret that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson wants to sign one or two max players in the next offseason. There are plenty of rumors saying that one of them would likely be James, who has a player option at the end of the 2017-2018 season.

The four-time NBA MVP has been linked with a move to the lucrative Los Angeles market for quite some time now. His recent purchase of a second Los Angeles mansion has done nothing but further fuel free-agency speculation.

Lakers Nation reported that “at the top” of the team’s wish list next summer is James, and Johnson is already preparing his squad to welcome him.

At the moment, young players Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, as well as that of veterans Luol Deng and Brook Lopez, are rumored to be in the Lakers’ trading block, as Magic is planning to dump as much salary as possible to accommodate King James’ wage.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during a game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.Featured image credit: Harry HowGetty Images

There were also reports saying that the Lakers could offer the allure of the city in drawing opportunities outside of basketball when pitching to James. However, the report said that Magic is aiming to make the Lakers’ pitch about “basketball and winning” instead of “marketing and branding.”

A recent Inquisitr report mentioned that the possibility of landing James could skyrocket if the Lakers can acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder. A trade package including Clarkson, super rookie Kyle Kuzma, and veteran swingman Corey Brewer is said to be enough to persuade OKC to let go of George, especially if the Big Three experiment with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony is deemed a failure in midseason.

Rockets Could Form Ultimate Big Three With LeBron James, Chris Paul, James Harden

The Rockets have emerged as the newest contestant in the LeBron James lottery. While the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles are said to be James’ most attractive landing spot, they would have to totally revamp their roster to even make the King (and his championship aspirations) look their way.

Meanwhile, Houston is the hottest team in the NBA right now. The Rockets are currently sitting on top of the league standings with a 20-4 record and have won nine straight games. The team has lost only once in their last 16 outings.

Last summer’s addition of Chris Paul has invigorated Mike D’Antoni’s crew, assisting James Harden as the team’s new one-two All-Star punch.

Adding James to the duo could form the “super team to end all super teams,” according to the Ringer.

Chris Paul, LeBron James, and James Harden
Team USA teammates (from left to right) Chris Paul, LeBron James, and James Harden.Featured image credit: Christian PetersenGetty Images

The report noted that joining the Rockets would provide James the “best chance” of beating the Golden State Warriors. It also said that it would be a “mirror image” of what Kevin Durant did when he joined Golden State in the 2016 offseason.

Unlike his past switch to Miami and his return to Cleveland, James will not need to “join a team under construction” in Houston. The Rockets are already a formidable squad right now, and, like Durant to the Warriors, he can join them to become the “final piece” that will take them to the championship level.