LeBron James made the decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in his career to head to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason. It was a decision that shook up the entire landscape of the NBA and put the Lakers back on the map in the Western Conference. Immediately following the signing of James, fans began expecting the Lakers to bring in another star player, but that doesn’t appear likely.
According to a report from Zach Lowe of ESPN, James is not pushing the Lakers to acquire a second star. He is comfortable playing the 2018-19 season with the current roster of veteran role players and young talent and saving the cap space for next offseason.
“But LeBron is a Laker, and he is not pressuring L.A. to acquire a second star now, per sources familiar with his thinking. His decision to come alone for three guaranteed seasons speaks for itself. He knows Ingram has at least borderline All-Star potential, and that the 2019 free-agency class is loaded beyond Leonard. He has faith in the combined powers of his supernova talent and the Lakers brand. His patience will have limits. But reading between the lines, the Lakers probably have the next calendar year before LeBron applies urgent pressure.”
Fans in Los Angeles are still hoping that Magic Johnson pulls the trigger on a blockbuster trade. Names like Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and DeMar DeRozan have all come up as potential targets.
When LeBron James & Magic Johnson met last weekend they plotted a new course for his career. The Lakers roster moves this week are the beginning of those changes (w/ @ramonashelburne): https://t.co/LeGc46lYYp— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 5, 2018
Instead of bringing in another star, the Lakers opted to sign a few very solid role players to surround James with. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo were all added to the roster. According to a report from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Lakers are sure of James’ approval of the moves, as the communication between the two sides has been strong.
Looking ahead to next offseason, the Lakers will have some money to spend. That could put them in the running for names like Leonard and Jimmy Butler. L.A. could also explore a trade that brings in a big name for some of the young assets that the Lakers have put together.
Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart have all drawn trade interest this offseason. Thus far, Johnson has not been willing to include Ingram in any trade talks.
James seems very comfortable letting the young talent develop around him. He has not had the kind of raw talent in young players anywhere else that he has in L.A. That could be intriguing to him, as he is the veteran mentor of the team.
All of that being said, the Lakers are going to be entertaining to watch this season. They may not be able to overcome the Golden State Warriors, but James isn’t looking at 2018-19 as a must-win season.
Los Angeles appears likely to head into the season without acquiring another star to play with James unless the asking price on one of those stars comes down to their comfort zone.