Since assuming front office roles, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have revealed their ambitious plan of bringing multiple superstars in Los Angeles. They already started creating salary cap space for two maximum-salaried players in preparation for the upcoming free agency. In the past months, LeBron James and Paul George were topping the list of the Lakers’ free agent targets.
The acquisition of both superstars will undeniably help the Lakers become a significant team again in the Western Conference, but defeating the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series remains a big question mark. Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report created a scenario where the Lakers can successfully sign LeBron James, Paul George, and Chris Paul this offseason.
None of those superstars are expected to take a pay cut, so the Lakers should prioritize moving Luol Deng and the remaining two years and $36 million on his contract. Swartz suggested that the Cavaliers, Lakers, and the Phoenix Suns could facilitate a three-team trade centered on LeBron James.
Like they did to dump Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets, the Lakers would need to attach another young player like Lonzo Ball to convince the Suns to absorb Deng’s contract. Of course, the Cavaliers will not push through with the deal without getting a significant return. Swartz believes Cleveland could ask for a package centered on Brandon Ingram as compensation for losing the best basketball player on the planet.
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The proposed three-team trade will be beneficial for the Suns, Lakers, and the Cavaliers. Phoenix will be acquiring young and promising talent that could speed up the rebuilding process. Being a pass-first point guard, Lonzo Ball won’t have a hard time sharing the Suns’ backcourt with Devin Booker, and there is strong possibility that they could be the most dangerous backcourt duo in the years to come.
Meanwhile, the package centered on Brandon Ingram could be one of the best offers the Cavaliers could get in engaging LeBron James in a sign-and-trade deal. Ingram has already shown his potential to become a superstar in the league, and it will not be a surprise if he becomes the next face of the Cavaliers’ franchise. If James leaves, the Cavaliers should also consider moving other veterans like Kevin Love for young assets and draft picks.
For the Lakers, the “Big Three” of LeBron James, Paul George, and Chris Paul will undeniably make them a legitimate title contender next season. The deal will also enable them to re-sign Julius Randle, who could either play as their starting center when they choose to play small ball, or serve as their bench leader.
As of now, it remains a mystery if the suggested three-team trade will happen this summer. Expect more rumors and speculations to circulate as the 2018 free agency period approaches.