Sunday night’s 127-113 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Staples Center was a big match for the Los Angeles Lakers not only because it delivered their 30th win of the season, the game also served as a recruiting platform for would be free agent LeBron James. But as what NBA insider Ramona Shelburne stressed in her recent article on ESPN, no one knows what’s on LeBron’s mind right now except himself.
The Lakers will have some serious competition (the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, and the Philadelphia 76ers) in their pursuit of James this summer. Chasing big time free agents usually presents a hit-or-miss situation, but Lakers fans shouldn’t worry too much because the franchise apparently has a strong fallback option if LeBron snubs L.A, according to NBA insider and cap expert Eric Pincus of NBA TV and Bleacher Report.
In last week’s episode of Dwight & Aaron on RIP City Radio 620, Pincus discussed a number of hot NBA topics, including the much-talked LeBron to Lakers scenario. While he believes the Lakers have made a strong case as a potential landing spot for LeBron, Pincus is also aware of the uncertainty surrounding the four-time NBA MVP.
Pincus thinks the plan B for the Lakers is to pursue Paul George if he becomes available this summer and preserve the remaining max-level slot until 2019 when All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson are set to become unrestricted free agents. Like George, both Leonard and Thompson were born and raised in the Los Angeles area, giving the Lakers some home-field advantage in their recruiting pitch.
There’s also the possibility of keeping forward Julius Randle in the fold by matching an offer sheet for the incoming restricted free agent. Re-signing Randle would cost the Lakers their other max level slot this summer since the blossoming big man is expected to receive offer sheets that would pay him $18 million per season. However, Pincus stressed in his previous article on Bleacher Report that the Lakers could still be in the game for Leonard, Thompson, and other elite free agents in 2019 by dumping Luol Deng’s albatross deal elsewhere.
The road to title contention is going to be tricky and bumpy for the Lakers moving forward. Of course, enlisting the service of LeBron James comes number one on the Lakers’ list of priorities for this summer. Then again, if things don’t fall into place, it’s good to know that one of the NBA’s glamour franchises has an ambitious yet very much realistic alternative plan in place.