The Los Angeles Lakers just endured a disappointing first season of the LeBron James era, but new rumors could indicate a brighter future and a rapid rebuild with Jimmy Butler on board.
The Lakers are expected to be active in the first offseason with James, and a new report claims that pending free agent Jimmy Butler could be interested in joining James and the Lakers next year. As Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck reported in an interview with LeBron James, Butler is believed to have heavy interest in the Lakers — along with the Brooklyn Nets.
“Rival executives will tell you, without hesitation, that Durant is bound for the Knicks; that Irving is likely to join him; that Leonard likes the Clippers; that Butler might choose the Lakers — unless he chooses the Nets,” Beck reported.
Acquiring Butler could be a major boost to a Lakers team that struggled to gel during LeBron’s first season, with the team suffering through injuries and inconsistency. The Lakers pursued talented big man Anthony Davis before the recently passed NBA trade deadline, but could not reach a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. While Davis is still believed to be on the radar for the Lakers, Butler could bring immediate help to a team looking to rapidly rebuild.
The Lakers could have an opportunity to seize a Western Conference shakeup coming next season. As Beck noted, Durant is expected to bolt the Golden State Warriors, which could leave an opening for the Lakers to move into contention.
LeBron James will likely play a major role in helping bring free agents to Los Angeles. In his interview with Bleacher Report, James said he was never too involved with the Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers in their free agency plans, but wants to be more “active” in helping the Lakers get better.
James said he believes the team has an opportunity to get better immediately, and said he will be “as active as I need to be” to get the team over the hump. It’s not clear how much sway James may have with Jimmy Butler, a former rival to James on the Cavaliers. Butler has already shunned the chance to play with LeBron James in the past, SB Nation noted, telling the Minnesota Timberwolves last season that he wanted to be traded and giving the team a list of teams that did not include the Los Angeles Lakers.