NBA Rumors: Lakers ‘Hell-Bent’ On Pairing LeBron James With ‘Max-Level Free Agent,’ Upgrading Roster Via Trade

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The Los Angeles Lakers have failed to reach the Western Conference Playoffs for the sixth straight year despite the acquisition of the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, last summer. After suffering another disappointing season, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka must be aware that they need to pair James with other superstars to bring the Purple and Gold back to title contention.

However, Dave McMenamin of ESPN revealed that from the time they signed LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka already knew what should be their top priority. After failing to acquire their second superstar last summer, the Lakers have started making moves that will enable them to chase big names in the summer of 2019, both in the trade and free agency market.

“A source familiar with the three-hour meeting James had at his home with Johnson on the eve of his free-agency decision told ESPN that Davis’ name never came up when the two discussed future plans. But when the Lakers signed Rondo, Stephenson, Beasley, et al. to one-year contracts after George stuck with the Thunder, the message was clear: L.A. was hell-bent on pairing LeBron with a max-level free agent in the summer of 2019 — with the possibility to upgrade the roster via a trade even before that.”

The Lakers have plenty of ways to improve their roster in the 2019 NBA offseason. Last summer, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019. Though some of their incoming free agents, including Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee, have already expressed their desire to re-sign, the Lakers are expected to prioritize chasing the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins in the 2019 NBA free agency.

Aside from having the max contract to offer, the Lakers also have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal. Before the February NBA trade deadline, the Lakers reportedly offered their entire young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart to the New Orleans Pelicans for All-Star center Anthony Davis. Though they failed to secure a deal with the Pelicans, the Lakers are still planning to pursue Davis in the 2019 NBA offseason. If the Pelicans trade Davis to another team, the Lakers are expected to go after other NBA superstars who will be available on the trade market next summer.