The Los Angeles Lakers are in the lead for the LeBron James and Paul George sweepstakes, NBA rumors indicate.
Both James and George will be free agents this summer and interest is expected to be high across the league. While free agency is still months away, a number of sources from the OC Register to Lakers beat writer and even Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal think that both stars are headed to Los Angeles next year.
The Lakers have been preparing for this summer for years, building a base of young talent to make it an attractive destination while also gathering the cap space necessary to make a run at the big free agents. Mark Heisler, a beat writer for the OC Register, believes that the Lakers are in the lead for the race to land LeBron James and Paul George.
Heisler noted that a series of factors had to play out for the Los Angeles Lakers to take the lead in landing the stars, including the Lakers young core finally being ready to compete, the Lakers having space for two max-contract slots, and both LeBron and Paul George having no better options.
It is not yet clear how James and George consider their other landing spots, but the first round exit for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the team’s deteriorating chemistry could help hasten George’s exit. As The Big Lead noted, LeBron could be tempted to leave the Eastern Conference to avoid the fast ascent of the Philadelphia 76ers, a team on fast track to be a title contender.
Shaquille O’Neal has also lent his voice to the NBA rumors around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I think Paul George, he’s definitely going to the Lakers,” O’Neal said on The Big Podcast with Shaq (via NESN). “Him and LeBron. You heard it here first. I’m gonna say this is just my opinion, LeBron, Paul George and there will be a couple of other big names that go to the Lakers organization.”
But the NBA rumors pointing to both LeBron James and Paul George heading to the Los Angeles Lakers could still change depending on how the Cleveland Cavaliers advance. After an opening-round series where the team relied almost entirely on LeBron, the supporting cast has done more in the second round as the Cavs race to a 3-0 lead over the top-seeded Toronto Raptors. If the Cavs could win a title this year with players like Kevin Love and J.R. Smith taking a bigger role, it could affect LeBron’s decision on where to go in the offseason.