Orignial Story – ESPN
“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.”
Yesterday, Magic came out cocky as can be claiming that he felt no pressure and that he was so confident in his abilities, he would willingly step down if he strikes out this year and next year. Today, ESPN reported that LeBron doesn’t want to be the first superstar to come to LA and would prefer that they already have someone in place. This puts the pressure (key word) on the Lakers front office to try and finagle a Kawhi trade before free agency begins.
The major problem with this is that the Spurs have been adamant about not wanting to deal Leonard to the Lakers. If the Lakers strike out on a Kawhi trade and James or George in free agency, there is still a shot to land Kawhi in free agency after next season. While LA is Kawhi’s preferred landing spot, the same was said of Paul George last season. As we’ve seen in the NBA, quite a bit can change as now the narrative of George staying put in OKC for the time being seems to get stronger by the day. If the Lakers strike out this off season, they’re going to be in an extremely frantic place come next year with a considerably weaker crop of stars (basically Leonard and maybe Klay) hitting free agency.
That said, rumors are also flying around that Lebron’s kid has unofficially committed to go to high school at Sierra Canyon in the San Fernando Valley of LA. So at least that rumor seems to be promising for the Lakers. We all know how the happiness and well-being of his family is paramount in his decision this time around, so what better place to bring his supremely talented kid to keep growing as a basketball player? Something tells me Bronny might pick up a bit more seasoning playing the High School/AAU circuit in LA compared to Northeast Ohio.
For all we know, these rumors and sources could be bullshit as most of the time they end up being just that. Rumors are going to be crazy in the days leading up to the start of free agency, but if one thing is for certain, given the circumstances, Magic should be feeling at least a bit of pressure to make a splash.