As it has often been mentioned in the past, LeBron James will be entering a relatively unfamiliar situation with the Los Angeles Lakers. While he had Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and Dwyane Wade in Miami, the four-time NBA MVP doesn’t have any other established superstars to team with on the Lakers, as the team’s top returning players are mostly entering their second or third years in the league with a lot of untapped potential. As such, there’s been a lot of talk of the Lakers chasing a second superstar before, during, or immediately after the 2018-19 NBA season.
Commenting on the possibilities the Lakers will face in the 2018-19 season, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus discussed the best-case and worst-case scenarios for James’ talented young teammates, but acknowledged that Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart might fall “somewhere in between” exceeding and failing to live up to expectations. With this uncertainty in mind, Pincus pointed out that James “may already be recruiting” superstars to play alongside him in Los Angeles in the aftermath of his recent UCLA workout with Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
While Durant and Leonard were mentioned as obvious candidates to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers once they hit free agency in 2019, Pincus also mentioned the possibility of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving reuniting on the Lakers lineup. While the two led the way for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they came from behind to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, Pincus predicted that the chances of both superstars playing together on the same team again might be rather low due to the previous friction between them.
“A reunion with Irving is unlikely given that he and James didn’t part on the best of terms in Cleveland.”
Separately, NESN agreed with Bleacher Report’s assessment of the situation, pointing out the reason why Irving reportedly wanted to leave the Cavaliers — a desire to “remove himself from James’ shadow” and be the top man on a new team. Following his trade in 2017 to the Boston Celtics, Irving established himself as the team’s leader, which could mean joining the Lakers as a free agent in 2019 would be a “step back in terms of being the face of a franchise.”
Furthermore, NESN noted that Kyrie Irving might not be high on the Lakers’ priority list in the summer of 2019, as Kawhi Leonard’s previous comments about wanting to play in Los Angeles could make him the Lakers’ focus next offseason. In addition to Leonard, Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler might also be a priority for the Lakers, as he was recently quoted by the Sporting News and other publications as saying he’s “open” to teaming with LeBron James in Los Angeles once he becomes a free agent next summer.