The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly shifting their attention to 2019 NBA free agents instead of making a splash after this season. The Lakers have Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson on their radar, but Los Angeles is unlikely to acquire the four-time All-Star.
Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Lakers are now “recalibrating their focus” on the 2019 class. Thompson will be one of the biggest names available in 2019 NBA free agency if the Warriors fail to lock him up to a contract extension. The 27-year-old shooting guard is expected to be linked to a possible Los Angeles homecoming.
The Lakers originally planned to chase top free agents after this season, and are being heavily connected to LeBron James and Paul George. However, both stars have made it no secret that they want to play for a championship contender, and the Lakers are not even close to that status at this point based on their 22-31 record.
However, things could change for the Lakers if they wait for another year. Wojnarowski and Shelburne added that waiting until 2019 will give the Lakers more time to develop their young core to make it more attractive for big-name free agents.
Los Angeles will likely continue clearing cap space and piling up draft picks in the coming months. However, snatching Thompson from the Warriors is easier said than done.
Mychal Thompson said on Sirius XM NBA Radio that his son is not planning to leave Golden State when he becomes a free agent. He denied that the two-time NBA champion is thinking of playing elsewhere to get a starring role.
“He loves playing with Steph and KD and the whole crew,” Thompson said of his son. “He loves living in the Bay Area, living there, as well all know how special it is to go into the beautiful new arena in a couple of years over in San Francisco. So Klay is not looking to leave.”
Thompson added that it is still up to the Warriors to make his son stay in the Bay Area. But based on their recent success, Golden State will likely retain their four All-Stars in the next several years. Chris Biderman of USA Today said that the Warriors front office has shown “willingness to spend massive amounts” to keep their championship team intact.
If the Lakers fail to acquire Thompson, they are expected to focus on San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler. Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, and Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside might also become free agents after the 2018-2019 season.