On Tuesday night, the rollercoaster ride of a season that was for the 2018-19 Los Angeles Lakers will finally reach its conclusion. 82 games will be in the books, but the competition is really about to heat up for the Lakers’ front office, as they attempt to make their widely-known plan become a reality.
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have been angling for quite some time to sign two max free agents. It started with them clearing salary in deals that required them to offload some young players to shed bad contracts. Through some maneuvering, the Lakers created enough space to offer two max contracts in free agency. That was step one.
The next step was getting the players to come aboard. They were able to start the next phase of the plan by signing LeBron James last summer. Now, they hope to pair him with another splash signing in free agency this July.
The Lakers will now turn their attention to an offseason in which they are expected to revisit trade options for [Anthony] Davis, while also chasing top targets in free agency – as unlikely as it is that Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson will come, according to a league source who believes the Lakers will be second or third on those players’ lists.
This seems to be the way things have been heading recently for the Lakers. The outlook right now does not appear great in regards to the team landing one of the three names mentioned. There is plenty of buzz around Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers and Durant and the New York Knicks, along with the teams they both currently play for. Most speculative talk indicates that Thompson will re-sign with the Golden State Warriors.
But it is also important to remember that this report comes in early April. Things can take a drastic turn in the blink of an eye in the NBA. Depending on how the NBA playoffs turn out, the feeling and reports around some of these impending free agents could be considerably different in late June than they are now. Additionally, a lot of free agents are very good at keeping their intentions in the dark.
Paul George was a “lock” to sign with the Lakers last summer, but never even gave them a meeting. Plenty of reports indicated that James would re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers or join Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.
The NBA offseason is a soap opera, filled with drama and plot twists left and right. It would not be surprising if the Lakers strike out on the names mentioned in this report. But plenty can change between now and July 1.