NBA Rumors: Despite Calls For Trade, LeBron James Starts Superstar Recruiting For Lakers
LeBron James has been quiet so far with the turmoil slowly leaking out from within the Los Angeles Lakers. The three-time NBA MVP has hardly spoken on the Magic Johnson vs. Rob Pelinka row and may never will. Instead, the King has focused more on getting the purple and gold better by reaching out to some top NBA stars set to hit free agency.
According to Brian Windhorst, James has already touched base with at least two stars - Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler. Tampering does not involve players doing the recruiting and it will be interesting if the efforts of LeBron will bear fruit.
Talking to Kawhi Leonard may be a bit of a surprise considering there were reports even before the 2018-19 NBA season started that the 27-year-old was not to coy with the idea of playing alongside James, ESPN said. However, that take was more of Michael Wright's sources and the brewing fact that Leonard was not interested in the jump.
Seeing however how Leonard has been turning things around for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, there could be new developments. Should the Raptors make it to the NBA Finals, Leonard could be talked into sticking around Toronto next season. Hence, it all boils down on how well James is able to convince Leonard to sign with the Lakers.
As for Butler, the 29-year-old did express interest in joining the Lakers in the past. His stay in Philadelphia was seen more as a temporary stopover although the Sixers performance in the NBA playoffs could likewise sway him into staying.
The thing here is that the Lakers are likely to sign only one of the two. Hence, the efforts of James is seen as a way to broaden their options since the Lakers do need someone who can help on the offensive end and take some load off James.
Another target remains Kyrie Irving. James and Irving have since gotten past that rift they had in Cleveland and there is now a belief that the 27-year-old guard could reunite with the King in LA, the New York Post reported. There is no telling who the Lakers will prioritize although Irving also has his share of suitors. That includes the New York Knicks and his current team (Boston Celtics) who are both expected to offer something to the top overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. With James aggressively recruiting, more top NBA free agent names are expected to come out in the open.