The NBA rumors did not end on a wild trade deadline, with Magic Johnson’s talk about building a new superteam in Los Angeles building speculation that LeBron James is headed to the Lakers this offseason.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the busiest teams this year — and the busiest trade deadline for any team in a long time — by shipping out Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, and Isaiah Thomas III in a series of deals and taking on Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill. The team has an entirely different makeup now, intended to set them up better to pull out of their midseason struggles and better equip them to take on the Golden State Warriors, should they both reach the NBA Finals again.
But the trade may have also told an important piece of LeBron James’ future, and a sign that it may not be in Cleveland. By shipping out Clarkson and Nance, the Lakers have cleared up $70 million in cap space that team president Magic Johnson said will allow the Lakers to go after two superstars when free agency starts in July.
As ESPN noted, LeBron James and Paul George are likely at the top of the list for the Los Angeles Lakers. There have been rumors floating around the NBA for more than a year hinting that LeBron wants to spend the end of his career in Los Angeles, where he and his wife already have a home in the offseason.
That certainly seems to be the Lakers aim as well, NBA.com writer Steve Aschburner said. In a breakdown of the Cavaliers-Lakers trade, Aschburner said it is clear that the Lakers’ aim is to clear the path to land LeBron James once free agency starts in July.
Not everyone shares the sentiment that LeBron James will move to the Los Angeles Lakers next season, despite the rampant NBA rumors. Fellow NBA.com writer Tas Melas believes the Cavaliers still have the edge in keeping LeBron, especially after overhauling the entire roster to keep him happy and better position him for a run this season. For his part, James has not given any public indication that he plans to leave Cleveland.