After failing to enter the Western Conference playoffs for the sixth straight year, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be more aggressive in finding a second superstar who could play alongside LeBron James in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Lakers have plenty of ways to improve their roster in the summer of 2019. Aside from having a plethora of trade assets that they could use in a blockbuster deal, the Lakers also have enough salary cap space to chase big names in the 2019 NBA free agency.
The 2018-19 NBA season is still far from over, but James has reportedly started recruiting some incoming free agents to Los Angeles. In a recent appearance on Pardon the Interruption, Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed that James “had contact” with Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors and Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers.
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process,” Windhorst said, as quoted by Sports Illustrated. “I’ve heard he’s had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler. There’s no tampering enforcement by players.”
The Lakers will be hitting two birds with one stone with the acquisition of either Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler. Aside from being reliable scoring options, Leonard and Butler can also be tasked to guard the opposing team’s best player. Between the two superstars, the Lakers have a better chance of adding Butler in the 2019 NBA offseason.
In a Twitter post, Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times revealed that Jimmy Butler “likes” LeBron James and the city of Los Angeles. Markazi added that Butler will sign with the Lakers “in a second” if they give him a max contract in the 2019 NBA free agency.
@ColinCowherd asked me this morning on @TheHerd what star player the Lakers could realistically sign, I didn’t waste any time saying Jimmy Butler. He likes L.A, LeBron James has been in touch with him and he would join the Lakers in a second if they offered him a max deal.”
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) May 23, 2019
LeBron James and the Lakers will likely love to have Jimmy Butler on their roster. Butler is an established superstar who earned a good reputation all around the league because of his incredible defense. As of now, it remains unknown how far the Lakers are willing to go to bring Butler to Los Angeles. However, it seems like a max contract is the only way to convince him to team up with James next season.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Butler expressed strong confidence that he will get a huge payday “anywhere I choose to go,” hinting at the possibility that he will immediately turn down any team that will try to offer him less than the max in the 2019 NBA free agency.