Report: LeBron James has contacted Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler to recruit them to the Lakers

Kawhi Leonard
Mar 14, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot hanging in the balance this summer. After a catastrophic first season with LeBron James on the roster, they are hoping to right their wrongs and build a championship contender this offseason.

Their first path to doing so is free agency where a loaded class will give them the chance to add another star player alongside James for the rest of his time in Los Angeles.

However, the Lakers do not seem to be in the lead for any of the numerous stars on the market with their poor season and embarrassing off-court rumblings making them a risky destination. The team’s management has been disorganized, leading many to believe that they may strike out this summer.

What the Lakers have over several other organizations hoping to land a star this summer is LeBron who, despite a down year due to injuries, is considered by most to be the best player in the world. That may be enough to poach someone to join him in the interest of chasing a championship.

James seems to be aware of that and has begun using that platform to recruit help. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, he has already reached out to two star wing players, in particular.

“From what I understand, he’s 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.”

Leonard is arguably the most coveted free agent out there and will have plenty of teams looking for his services. His Toronto Raptors could make the Finals. The LA Clippers have emerged as a favorite to sign him. But if James were to pull Leonard to the Lakers, that would immediately erase nearly every misstep that the Lakers have had over the past year.

Butler does not have the same influence but he is still an incredibly talented player albeit with the risks of his age and injury history playing a factor. Nevertheless, he may be a more attainable target having lost touches in the Philadelphia 76ers’ star-studded starting lineup.

Windhorst also notes that Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has grown more open to the idea of signing with the Lakers and reuniting with LeBron despite the duo’s formerly tarnished relationship. One would assume that LeBron has also been actively recruiting his former teammate.

What is clear is that the Lakers will need to rely on LeBron James in the summer more than they already do on the court. They must also hope he delivers the same way.

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