Last summer the Los Angeles Lakers landed the NBA’s marquee player in LeBron James just days into free agency.
James’ presence resulted in just two more wins than the previous season, from 35-47 to 37-45, but his presence makes LA an appealing destination for other free agents.
Or so we thought.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN dropped a mini-Woj Bomb on Tuesday night during its “NBA Mock Draft Special.” He said the Lakers better hope they can trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis because they are not expected to land a top free agent.
“If the Lakers are drafting at No. 4 on draft night, they’re in trouble because that means they didn’t get an AD trade done,” Wojnarowski said.
“This is an organization that is in a win-now mode with LeBron James,” he said. “They have got to find, and very likely via trade, a co-star for LeBron James, because right now they are not a front-runner or even really a major consideration for any of the elite free agents.”
That is just his opinion, but Wojnarowski is as connected as any NBA reporter out there and has a sterling reputation.
Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Lakers have about $66 million in salary committed to players for next season, which gives them enough cap space to sign a free agent to a max deal.
Some of the top free agents this summer include Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson, while Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard all have player options that will likely be declined.
At one point or another, all of those aforementioned players have been linked to the Lakers, but Woj explicitly mentioned Walker as someone the Lakers and others will be interested in.
”Teams like Dallas, the Knicks, the Lakers are going to be very interested in Walker,” Wojnarowski said. “If [the Charlotte Hornets] weren’t gonna sign him, you would have thought they would have traded him at the trade deadline.”
Working against the Lakers for Walker’s services is the fact that he made an All-NBA team this past season. That triggered him to be eligible for a supermax extension with the Hornets, who can offer $80 million more than any other team.
The Lakers may be “interested” in Kemba Walker, but if the Hornets offer the full supermax, it’s hard to see him leaving more money on the table ($80 million extra on the supermax) than he’s even made in his career to date ($58 million). https://t.co/SOSlbfxFsb
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 12, 2019
Fortunately for the Lakers, free agency isn’t the only way to build a team. They could always trade for another superstar, as they did with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain in the past. Or they could strike gold in the draft and select a future superstar with the fourth overall pick in next week’s draft.
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