If there’s one destination that a high number of reports are saying that 2018 NBA free agents are obsessed over, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers, but if reports from the franchise are to be believed, they could be more focused on the player potential beyond the offerings of this summer.
Over the past year or so, we have seen reports stating that the likes of Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans’ DeMarcus Cousins, and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George are all interested in moving out west to join up with the Lakers.
Many people believe due to the fact Los Angeles will have a lot of flexibility in free agency, and the fact they haven’t been to the playoffs in four seasons and don’t look like they’ll be reaching that goal anytime soon, that they could go after and sign both George and/or Cousins and/or James somehow.
However, if a recent report by ESPN is to be believed, the Western Conference side might only go after one or two free agents, or only sign one big star in this upcoming free agency, as they look towards lengthening out the team building process into a more sustainable one.
The report states that while the Lakers aren't abandoning a pursuit of the stars that are available in 2018, they’re readjusting their focus on the 2019 free agency class that could include the likes of San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson, and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler.
When you take into account recent events though, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles appears to have suddenly changed their focus. Cousins has a torn Achilles tendon and is out for the rest of the season, George has suggested he’s more open than ever to staying with the Thunder, and it is believed that James won’t sign with the Lakers unless an established star immediately joins him.
If you look at the Lakers past 14 games, it further indicates why the team might be willing to leave it one more year before going big on the free agency market. Their young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart has won 10 of the last 14. Lonzo Ball is part of that core too, but he has missed the past 10 games with a knee injury.
Two other players that have played a part in recent form include Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, who have also been a part of many trade discussions. It’s possible that if they move either on this week or at the draft, and find a resolution to Luol Deng’s contract, they could create $60 million in cap space by summer 2019, according to the report.
The Lakers could use their salary cap space to accommodate teams looking to dump bad contracts, which are also willing to send draft picks their way as well to entice them if they sit out free agency this summer.
It looks like either in 2018 or 2019, the Lakers have strong hopes of landing a big name star to revive their playoff hopes, whether it be James, George, or Cousins this year, or Leonard, Thompson, or Butler next year. This can only mean exciting things for the City of Los Angeles.News Now - Sport News