The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t interested in slowing down their pursuit of a max-level free agent. While they’ve been linked to a number of top-tier players, it appears they’re lining up their options and preparing for all possible scenarios which could play out. With the immediate focus being on Kawhi Leonard, the team’s attention has also been linked to D’Angelo Russell and now Jimmy Butler as well.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Lakers are making an “aggressive bid” and pushing for a pitch meeting with Butler.
This comes on the heels of a report from Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press which stated that Butler was expected to tell the Miami Heat that he wishes to play for them. That situation is interesting, though, as the Heat would need to swing a sign-and-trade in order to land Butler, while the Lakers could sign him outright.
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Lakers Focus on Max-Level Player, Not Splitting Salary Cap Space
Along with the news of the Lakers’ push to line up a meeting with Butler, another interesting tidbit came to light. As Arye Abraham reported, the team is focused on adding a max-level player and not splitting up their cap space among multiple options.
While they freed up close to enough for a max contract, there was some belief that the Lakers could choose to split the money up and build around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. This especially stood true if the team missed on Leonard or one of the other top-tier names.
Lakers Linked to D’Angelo Russell
If the Lakers wind up losing out in their pursuit of Leonard, it’s come to light that Russell is a legitimate option. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Saturday that the Lakers reached out to Russell’s agents in an attempt to set up a meeting. And after the team cleared up cap space for a max-level player, many believe he could be the second option behind only Leonard.
Interestingly, as Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported, it appears the Lakers do not plan to offer Russell a max contract.
The Lakers aren’t likely to offer Russell a maximum contract, which would be $27.285 million per year.
As far as what this could mean for the Lakers’ pursuit of Butler, that remains to be seen. Regardless, there’s a strong likelihood that both Russell and Butler will receive max-level offers from teams, but the Lakers can pitch the idea of teaming up with LeBron and Davis. How this situation plays out should be fun to watch, and it’s going to be a busy stretch ahead.