Since the 2018 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers have been looking for a second superstar to pair with arguably the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James. They currently have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal and are expected to have enough salary cap space to sign a max free agent in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately, in the past months, rumors are circulating that some NBA superstars, including Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard, are not interested in teaming up with James in Los Angeles.
Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report recently interviewed several NBA players to get their opinion about the idea of playing alongside LeBron James. One of the NBA superstars he spoke with was Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors. Durant, who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has been frequently linked to the Lakers since the 2018 NBA free agency season. The Warriors superstar believes one of the major reasons why superstars don’t want to join James is because they don’t want to be on the same toxic environment he’s currently in.
“So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people,” Durant said.
“He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I’m like, we’re playing basketball here, and it’s not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn’t want to be in that environment because it’s toxic. Especially when the attention is bulls**t attention, fluff. It’s not LeBron’s fault at all; it’s just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball.”
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) December 6, 2018
Kevin Durant also added that there are different types of players. For a player like Kyle Korver, who comfortably plays on the court and performs well on the offensive end despite not being the No. 1 option, teaming up with LeBron James will be beneficial. However, for someone like Kawhi Leonard, a young player who is used to being the main guy of the team, serving as LeBron’s sidekick doesn’t make any sense.
The arrival of LeBron James has undeniably turned the Purple and Gold from a rebuilding team to a legitimate title contender in the deep Western Conference. However, in order to have a real chance of beating the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series, the Lakers still need to add at least two NBA superstars to support James. Despite the rumors that superstars aren’t interested in playing alongside James, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are expected to continue finding ways to improve their roster, either via trade or free agency.