The Los Angeles Lakers are set to face a free agency stretch which could shape both their immediate and long-term futures in a massive way. Whether it includes landing a max-level free agent or acquiring a number of solid pieces to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, big moves are coming. And at this point, it seems the two stars will be the ones primarily handling free agency recruitment.
As ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne stated (per John Ledesma on Twitter), it’s LeBron and Davis making the push to persuade players to head to Los Angeles. She reportedly also said that it doesn’t even matter about the fact that Rob Pelinka is running the show for the Lakers currently.
“I don’t think it even matters that Rob Pelinka is in charge right now, I think this is about LeBron & Anthony Davis recruiting players to come play with them.” – @ramonashelburne
As non-surprising as this statement may be on some levels, it’s still noteworthy and makes a lot of sense. After all, free agents would be joining the Lakers in order to team up with LeBron and Davis, while Pelinka’s recruitment is unlikely to carry nearly as much weight as a pitch from the two stars.
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Lakers Free Agency: Kawhi Leonard & D’Angelo Russell Chatter
There’s no question that Kawhi Leonard has been a talking point among Lakers fans and is believed to be a primary focus for the team once free agency gets underway. With that said, there’s a lot of concern over whether the Toronto Raptors star will consider joining the Lakers, and currently, the Los Angeles Clippers appear to have a better shot.
With Leonard, it’s all speculation at this point, as there’s very little reason to believe he’s offered much information on his future to anyone. He’s one of the key wild cards with free agency approaching, but the Raptors and Clippers should likely be considered the favorites.
When it comes to Brooklyn Nets (and former Lakers) guard D’Angelo Russell, things have gotten incredibly interesting. With rumblings that Kyrie Irving could be heading to the Nets, it would likely lead to Russell landing elsewhere in free agency. And shortly after Arye Abraham reported that the Lakers have “strong interest” in Russell as free agency approaches, Davis’ next move stood out in a big way.
As Ball Realm revealed Davis followed Russell on Instagram almost immediately after the rumblings linking the guard to the Lakers came to light. This fueled plenty of speculation about the potential for the 23-year-old to return to the team who drafted him No. 2 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Lakers’ Interest in Kemba Walker & Jimmy Butler
Along with Leonard and Russell, it appears Lakers fans may want to keep a close eye on the likes of Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler. Shortly after the team struck the trade to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that Walker would be a top target in free agency.
Going one step further, the rumblings of interest in Butler ramped up a bit after it was reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that the former Philadelphia 76ers guard intended to decline his player option.
As Haynes wrote, the Lakers “have genuine interest in acquiring Butler,” per his sources. It makes sense, as the 29-year-old guard was believed to have an interest in potentially being moved to Los Angeles before the Sixers struck a blockbuster trade for him early last season.