Lakers Free Agency: LeBron James Would Stunt Lonzo Ball’s Growth, East Exec Tells ‘Bleacher Report’

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The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to pursue LeBron James this summer. While James will make the Lakers a better team in the next few seasons, not all fans are sold on the idea of adding the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar to the roster. Some fans would rather sign a younger superstar, and let him grow with their current core.

James, who is playing in his 15th season in the league, is still considered the best player on the planet. He could instantly make Los Angeles a contender next season, but there are still question marks about how he will fit into the current Lakers team. One Eastern Conference executive told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report that James might hurt the growth of their young players, particularly rookie guard Lonzo Ball.

The Eastern Conference executive said that adding James to the mix will stunt Ball’s growth. The former UCLA standout is projected to become a triple-double threat later in his career, but he needs the ball in his hands to become effective. He is handling the ball a lot for the Lakers this season, but that could change if they sign James.

The executive also said that acquiring James this summer could create turmoil down the road. Ball will be looking to earn a hefty paycheck after his rookie contract, but he might not get it if he fails to co-exist with James. Ball’s father, LaVar, is also not expected to let his son defer a lot to James in the next several seasons.

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James could also affect the development of emerging players Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle. In fact, the Lakers might be forced to part ways with Randle if they decide to sign James. The former Kentucky standout is turning heads as of late, averaging 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds since the All-Star break.

Aside from the effect on the development of their young core, Pincus also added that the Lakers would be wise to look for long-term options. James turned 33-years-old in December. And while he is still the best player in the world, it remains to be seen how long he can keep dominating in the league.

If the Lakers want to become a contender, Pincus said that they should consider keeping their young core together, sign a younger superstar in 27-year-old Paul George, and then focus on 2019 free agency. If they decide to wait until next year, they can go after Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, and Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves.