With Lakers free agency rumors running wild, the Lakers have been linked to nearly every big name target. Now an extremely appealing destination due to their cap situation and the pair of superstars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers seemingly have interest from a number of top free agents.
Kawhi Leonard intends to have a meeting with the Lakers and the organization is by all accounts convinced that they can land him. While Kawhi is seemingly the Lakers’ top choice, Jimmy Butler could still be around should Kawhi decide to not head to the Lakers.
Jimmy Butler Open to Less Than Max Contract to Join Lakers [Report]
Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported that not only would Butler be open to joining the Lakers but may be willing to accept less than a max contract in order to make it happen.
The Sixers’ other key free agent, Jimmy Butler, has drawn interest from the Nets, presumably as a backup plan to pair with Kyrie Irving should Durant choose the Knicks or remain with the Warriors. But Butler, the Western Conference executive said, has interest in being the third star with the Los Angeles Lakers, even if it means accepting slightly less than a maximum salary. This is a shift by Butler and could reflect the value of the Lakers in his eyes now that they are about to pair Anthony Davis with LeBron James. When Butler originally asked the Minnesota Timberwolves for a trade last season, his preferred destinations were Los Angeles (to join the Clippers), New York or Miami, but the Lakers did not make the list.
This would be huge news for the Lakers and offer them a significant advantage over the rest of the league regarding their salary cap. Able to sign Butler – an assumed max player – under the max would enable them to help bolster the supporting cast with the money they save. As Toronto showed in the NBA Finals, depth kills and the Lakers will likely be a very top-heavy team next year.
Jimmy Butler’s Fit on the Lakers
On paper, Jimmy Butler looks to be a strong fit alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James. While he isn’t an elite outside shooter, he has a shot that defenders have to respect and if the Lakers and fill out the remaining starting spots with shooters, they should be more than okay. Butler’s ability to create his own shots should come in handy and he could likely see his playing time staggered a bit in order to get him minutes as the top dog while Davis and James rest.
Defensively, the pairing would be ideal. With Butler playing his patented tenacious defense on the perimeter and Davis patrolling the rim, the Lakers would have an incredibly solid foundation to build from. LeBron can be an elite defender when he locks in and with defensive-minded teammates, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see him start putting more of an effort on that side (as his offensive workload will be lightened).