The 2019 NBA All-Star draft has been filled with controversies after Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James selected players who are expected to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Players like Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, and Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors will be joining Team LeBron in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Aside from the incoming free agents, LeBron James also drafted New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, who the Lakers aggressively pursued before the February NBA trade deadline. In an interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, James explained that his picks were based on the best players available and not a way to recruit players to Los Angeles.
“It’s all good and well and dandy, but for me, I picked according to my draft board, and I picked according to who was the best available,” James said. “It just so happened that I had KD, who’s a pending free agent, and Kyrie, who’s a pending free agent. James [Harden] is under contract until 2030. Kawhi’s a free agent.”
LeBron James might be telling the truth, but it’s hard to blame some people from making speculations. Since the acquisition of James, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have already revealed that they are not done yet in upgrading their roster. They purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019.
LeBron James' past and future will intersect at this year's All Star game, his 15th. It's a testament to just how long he's been doing this. https://t.co/qls4ORJ9DI
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 17, 2019
With their current performance, the Lakers obviously need to pair LeBron James with another superstar to at least become a threat in the deep Western Conference. If they succeed in acquiring Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, or Kawhi Leonard in the 2019 NBA free agency, the Lakers are expected to resume their trade negotiation with the New Orleans Pelicans involving Anthony Davis next summer.
Despite offering their entire young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac, the Lakers were still unable to secure a deal with the Pelicans before the February NBA trade deadline. Now that Dell Demps is no longer the Pelicans general manager, the Lakers must be hoping for a smoother trade discussion with the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA offseason.
Pairing LeBron James with Anthony Davis and one of the incoming free agents will legitimize the Lakers’ chance of contending for the NBA championship. On Sunday night, at the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, Lakers’ fans will have the opportunity to see what their dream team will look like when James plays alongside his possible future teammates.