Of all the NBA rumors surrounding LeBron James, most of them end up with the superstar leaving Cleveland in free agency to create a new powerhouse elsewhere.
So here’s a new one — the Los Angeles Lakers may end up snagging LeBron not through free agency but via trade, and budding star Lonzo Ball could be at the other end of it. ESPN Los Angeles reporter Chris Haynes reported this week that Ball’s name has been the one constant in all the rumors regarding the team going after LeBron. That would mean James would have to opt in to his contract and force a trade, not the scenario being envisioned by most NBA experts.
It’s not clear how the sudden availability of San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard plays into the mix. The report from Haynes came out the same day the reports emerged that Leonard was likely headed out of San Antonio. The two sides were slated to meet this week to discuss Leonard’s future with the team, and there was a widespread sentiment that he would re-commit to the Spurs and be offered a $219 million contract. Instead, Leonard has reportedly expressed to the team that he wants a trade.
The Los Angeles Lakers were identified as Leonard’s top target, and Lonzo Ball was again noted as a potential piece of the trade.
It’s not clear if either scenario would work. The Lakers are flush with cap space and would have room for both Kawhi Leonard and one of the top free agents, either LeBron James or Paul George, so there would be no need for them to give up on Lonzo Ball — especially given that he’s still on his rookie contract and under team control for the next three years.
And Lonzo seems happy to be on the Los Angeles Lakers. Back in May, his dad, LaVarr Ball, even said that Lonzo was willing to take a lesser contract to remain with the Lakers as he was confident Lonzo could make up the difference in endorsements.
While the NBA rumors surrounding LeBron James are growing in intensity as free agency approaches, the Cleveland Cavaliers star has offered no public hints about what he plans to do next. He has been connected to the Lakers for more than a year — and recently enrolled his son in a prestigious high school in Los Angeles — but given no indication if he intends to sign with the Lakers.