LeBron James is doing what he can to put the Team LeBron stamp on this Lakers roster. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
LeBron James is putting in work on procuring star free agents.
While the Lakers front office continues to figure out who is the one sitting at the head of the table, LeBron James is taking it upon himself to get this franchise back to the playoffs.
The only way that happens is to inject the roster with far more superstar talent. Lance Stephenson’s air guitar solos were nice and all, but Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka’s lineup of playmakers led to 37 wins and an early offseason.
Say what you want about LeBron the GM, but the time is right for him to take over, massage egos and convince anyone to suit up next to him.
Pelinka doesn’t have the trust to persuade a star free agent. The rest of the Lakers front office lacks the gravitas it once did. So, thankfully, LeBron is already putting those anytime minutes to work.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst who appeared on “Pardon the Interruption,” James has already reached out to a couple of the marquee names presumed to be available this summer.
“From what I understand, [LeBron] has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 24, 2019
James is doing all he can short of sending Edible Arrangements to his buddies. Windhorst explains it may be for not, however.
From what I understand, [LeBron] has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler. I don’t know if texts and calls and maybe a dinner with LeBron is enough for the Lakers to overcome the hurdles that they’re going to have.
Kawhi Leonard is oddly turning into a possibility if you hear the latest scuttlebutt. Earlier this year the word was Kawhi wouldn’t play alongside LeBron James.
Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers, I’m being told don’t rule that out. Matter of fact, I have it on pretty good authority that’s something Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson himself is working on because he knows the uncle of Kawhi Leonard.
As for Butler, the L.A. Times’ Arash Markazi was on “The Herd” and answered Colin Cowherd immediately upon being asked who the Lakers might have a shot at.
“Jimmy Butler,” Markazi said. “I think they can give him a max deal and he would love to play here.”
When @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. pic.twitter.com/wXStzcAFzh
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 24, 2019
Back to Windhorst, who is ever the realist, he explained the Lakers don’t have a great shot in free agency and can’t be choosy.
I agree. If there’s one team that should sign the first top talent who agrees to step through the door they need to do it.
It might be the doldrums of the NBA postseason drawing to a close or the excitement of another season of possibilities for the Lakers, but the team previously devoid of options are getting some love on the rumor mill.
Windhorst had previously stated of former LeBron James teammate Kyrie Irving, “I think Kyrie is considering the Lakers.”
It should be noted that all of these players are still expected to go to other places. While it’s nice to be mentioned in a softer light than usual, it’s best to consider all options. So if LeBron can’t work his magic, there is another avenue.
When on PTI, Windhorst did mention that the Lakers would be better served going the trade route to better themselves. And even that sector of the market has opened up a bit in recent days.
Mike Conley is being shopped. DeMar DeRozan is suddenly being mentioned as an option. And it really depends on who you talk to as to whether the All-NBA team vote has helped the Lakers move closer or further away from Kemba Walker who is now eligible for a supermax contract or Bradley Beal who was snubbed from the honor.
Here are the options for Kemba Walker as he enters free agency:
Super max- 5 years/$221M
Bird (w/CHA)- 5 years/$190M
Team w/room- 4 years/$141M
Difference between the super max and signing with a new team is $80M.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) May 23, 2019
In Walker’s case, the Hornets can now outspend any other team by $80 million to keep their star. Then again, at 29, Charlotte may have just been priced out of the market for a player they may feel has just played his best season.
The point is the Lakers aren’t out of this thing just yet.
Between Pelinka’s popularity problems and Magic Johnson’s propensity to air dirty laundry, the organization really should be out of play for any talent on either the free agent or trade side of the equation.
Thankfully, they already hit the lotto last summer with LeBron, and his presence continues to pay handsomely.
The Lakers no longer have the lauded owner and sage head coach to convince a star, but they have the game’s most gifted superstar.
And, for the moment, it’s enough to keep this team in the race.