After engaging in a trade deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers before the February 8 trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a strong position to sign two superstars in free agency. The Lakers will reportedly keep an eye on superstar free agents in the summer of 2018 and 2019. In the upcoming offseason, LeBron James emerges as one of the Lakers’ top targets.
However, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, LeBron James is not the right target for the Lakers. At 33, James continues to establish an impressive performance every night, but no one can deny the fact that he’s already on the downside of his career. Pincus suggested that the Lakers should pursue younger superstars like Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, who will both become unrestricted free agents in 2019.
“And while James seems the obvious move, how long he’ll play at an elite level is a serious concern. Thompson or Leonard should play at All-Star levels for a lot longer than James will. Few would brand signing James a “mistake,” but for the long term, he may not be the right play for this young Lakers franchise.”
Like LeBron James, both Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard will boost the Lakers on both ends of the floor. What makes them better options for the purple and gold than James is that they are still in their prime when Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma reach their full potential.
Leonard, who is currently recovering from injury, is expected to test the free agency market in 2019 if he and the Spurs won’t agree to a massive contract extension this summer. The rumored feud between the All-Star forward and the Spurs could be a major hint about his potential departure in San Antonio. Meanwhile, Thompson remains one of the important pieces in Golden State.
However, being buried deep in the luxury tax hell, the Warriors will be needing to be extremely creative when Thompson’s contract expires in 2019. Since the offseason, there are speculations that the 28-year-old shooting guard may consider leaving the Warriors to become the main guy in another team, per Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. In his almost seven-year stint in Golden State, Thompson serves as their second or third fiddle and never their main option on the offensive end of the floor.
After winning another NBA championship title, Klay Thompson may think it’s time for him to seek a more challenging role. Joining the Lakers will help him fulfill his dream of becoming the main guy. Thompson will greatly benefit playing alongside a pass-first point guard like Lonzo Ball and an incredible playmaker in the wing like Brandon Ingram.
Targeting Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson than LeBron James will give the young Lakers more time to improve as a team in order to strengthen their chance of returning to title contention. However, knowing Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka, they will keep every option open to build a title-contending team.