The Los Angeles Lakers have a tendency to be in the middle of all the NBA rumors whenever there’s a top free agent hitting the market, and this summer ESPN thinks the team might find a way to land both marquee players on the free agent heap — plus another superstar potentially on the trade block.
With free agency starting a few weeks away, all eyes are on where Paul George and LeBron James will end up. Couple that with the possibility that the San Antonio Spurs trade the (maybe) disgruntled Kawhi Leonard, and it could be a busy offseason for the Lakers. According to ESPN, the team from Titletown could end up with all three players by the time it’s over.
Staff writer Kevin Pelton envisioned a scenario where the team finds the cap space to sign all three superstars, which would require trading away Luol Deng. There is a hitch, however — the Lakers would have to send Deng to the Spurs in exchange for Leonard, and the Spurs would have to agree. That could depend largely on how valuable San Antonio would find the other pieces of the trade.
“Presumably, a Lakers package would be built around one of the last two No. 2 overall picks — either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram,” Pelton wrote. “Just how realistic a Leonard trade is depends in large part on how San Antonio values those two developing prospects. From a financial perspective, including Ball gives the Lakers slightly more flexibility because he’ll count $7.5 million against the cap next season as compared to Ingram’s $5.8 million.”
The first two parts of the scenario could actually happen. There have been rumors connecting LeBron James to the Lakers for more than a year, as LeBron owns an offseason home in Los Angeles. As Slam reported, former NBA star Gary Payton just shared that LeBron enrolled his son in Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles, a basketball powerhouse. Paul George, a Los Angeles native, has also been open about his love for the city and has been long-rumored to be headed to the Lakers.
Kawhi Leonard would be the most difficult part of the equation, as the Spurs are reportedly meeting with the star forward in the coming days to gauge his commitment to the team. If Leonard is committed to coming back, the Spurs would be willing to offer a $219 million max contract, and the NBA rumors surrounding the Lakers would have to be one superstar shorter.