LeBron James to Los Angeles; Lakers Target Leonard, Cousins, Capela Next
LeBron James is heading to the Los Angeles Lakers. According to a press release from James’ agency Klutch Sports, The King has agreed to a 4-year $154 million contract with the team from Hollywood.
Thanks to the Lakers having a big salary cap space than any other team entering the basketball offseason, it was rumored for a while that the Lakers would be a strong contender to acquire LeBron James even before he opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
LeBron James to Los Angeles; Lakers Back As Contenders
With the LeBron James to Los Angeles deal finalized, the Lakers still have flexible space to build their 2018-2019 roster. L.A. still has around $13.3M to work with and have some trade assets in their roster, which includes young guys Lonzo Ball ($7.4M in 2018-19), Brandon Ingram ($5.7M) and Kyle Kuzma ($1.6M). Luol Deng has two years left in his deal ($36M, 2 years) while Julius Randle is a restricted free agent and can also be included in any sign-and-trade deal.
Jilted again by their hometown hero, the Cavaliers will have to reconstruct their roster and decide if they want to rebuild from scratch or create a contender in the Eastern Conference. Even without LeBron’s super max salary, the Cavs are still committed to a lot of money to a number of players; George Hill ($37M, 2 years left), Jordan Clarkson ($25M, 2 years left), J.R. Smith ($30M, 2 years left), Kevin Love ($50M, 2 years left) and Tristan Thompson ($36M).
Lakers’ Next Moves After Signing LeBron James
Kawhi Leonard trade
If the Lakers were aggressive before in adding another star in Los Angeles, now is the time to force the issue and try to trade for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. There were already reports that the Spurs and Lakers were in trade talks prior to the official signing of LeBron.
There were also reports that LeBron wouldn’t choose L.A. if they can’t get another high-profile star in the line-up. With Paul George opting to remain with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, it makes sense for the Lakers to continue their pursuit of Leonard. The question now is if the Lakers are willing to give up multiple young guys. Possible Leonard to Lakers trade could cost Los Angeles one or more of Ball, Randle, Kuzma and/Ingram.
Sign DeMarcus Cousins
Signing DeMarcus Cousins is apparently a Plan B for Los Angeles. The Lakers have already missed out on PG13 and could fail in acquiring Leonard from the Spurs. Cousins could come in cheap, or at least on a short-term deal, for the Lakers. If Cousins go to L.A., he’d be a nice target for LeBron down low if they do play together.
The New Orleans Pelicans, Cousins’ previous team, and the Washington Wizards, which features Cousin’s former college teammate John Wall, are reportedly chasing the big man.
Steal Clint Capela from the Rockets
The Lakers are also reportedly chasing a big man out West– Clint Capela, who was a key cog last season for the Houston Rockets. Capela met with the L.A. brass on Sunday and the restricted free agent could demand the max contract. The Rockets can still match any high-priced contract but could hesitate with their salary cap one of the highest in the league after signing Chris Paul to a super max contract late last week.
With LeBron James now in L.A, and a lot of cap space to further strengthen their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are now considered as prime title contenders next season. See the latest NBA Futures and betting odds today.