The Lakers front office is nervous. Magic Johnson came out yesterday and said he would step down in 2019 if he strikes out in free agency the next two summers. Magic is now trying his damn best to land a superstar (Kawhi Leonard) to increase the chances of landing Paul George and LeBron James. While both George and James may be leaning Lakers, their chances of getting both increases if Leonard is already in the fold.
In a multi reported story with Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the crew made it clear that the Lakers are doing everything in their power to land Leonard from the Spurs:
“As LeBron James remains hesitant to be the first superstar to decide on the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, pressure is mounting for the Lakers front office to execute a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire disgruntled All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, league sources told ESPN.
There’s a race to secure Leonard before James is faced with deciding whether to become a free agent on Friday, especially with concern that Oklahoma City’s Paul George is no longer assured of signing with the Lakers, league sources said.
Another preference by James that could impact free agency, league sources said, is that he wants to make a decision quickly in July free agency.”
It’s easy to understand why LeBron would be hesitant to come by himself which may open the door for his arrival with the Rockets or 76ers. Paul George may have to be the lynchpin to start the dynasty, just like Chris Bosh did so with Miami. The problem for the Lakers may be that San Antonio has already come out and said they won’t deal with them under any circumstance.
My guess is that George is essentially a lock to land with the Lakers. LeBron will likely follow suit. The trade with Kawhi probably won’t come anytime soon.