Since NBA All-Star Weekend, rumors have swirled that LeBron James has his focus on adding Steph Curry as the latest Los Angeles Lakers superstar. Curry has yet to sign a contract extension with the Warriors and will be a free agent after the 2021-22 season.
During a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons along with Ryen Russillo discussed the Curry to L.A. story. Simmons described the Curry-Lakers rumors as “one of the weirder fake news stories” that recently circulated around the NBA.
“There was this weird ‘LeBron is recruiting Curry’ story that just seemed like sheer boredom from the media,” Simmons noted. “I don’t know where it was coming from. I don’t know why anybody who’s followed Curry’s career at any point would think a) he would ever leave Golden State, b) he would want to like jump on the LeBron bandwagon and be LeBron’s sidekick. The whole thing was bizarre to me. I don’t think it’s been the tightest relationship over the years. I’m sure they get along better than maybe they used to be, but I thought that was one of the weirder fake stories that we’ve had.”
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Windhorst After NBA All-Star Weekend: ‘LeBron Has Obviously Begun the Recruiting of Steph’
The rumors started gaining steam after ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested on The Hoop Collective podcast that James appeared to be recruiting Curry during NBA All-Star Weekend. Windhorst has followed James as closely as any NBA insider dating back to his high school days in Ohio.
“I thought it was hilarious over All-Star Weekend, LeBron praising Steph up one side and down the other,” Windhorst explained. “How much he loves his game, how much he respects him. LeBron has obviously put the full-court press, not the full-court press. LeBron has obviously begun [the] recruiting of Steph just in the event that he wouldn’t extend and that somehow he would become a free agent and the Lakers would have a swing at him.”
Whether or not James started the recruiting process, there are multiple challenges to Curry landing with the Lakers, namely fitting three max contracts under the salary cap. Curry has yet to sign an extension and will be a free agent during the 2022 offseason as things stand now. We can expect the Lakers rumors to continue into next season if Curry does not ink an extension this summer.
Russillo on LeBron: ‘He Is Always Thinking of These Angles’
During The Bill Simmons Podcast, Russillo pushed back on the idea that the rumors were unsubstantial. Russillo admitted James appeared to be recruiting Curry, but he does not think it means anything in the long run.
“Well, [Brian] Windhorst brought it up, and I believe the part of LeBron thinking he’s recruiting Steph because it was odd,” Russillo responded. “…LeBron is so powerful, he’s arguably the most powerful individual athlete of our lifetime as far as team sports are concerned, that he is always thinking of these angles. So, I thought it was weird when I did see some of the interactions during All-Star Weekend where I was like, wait, so he picked him then he’s talking him up.”
Not only did James select Curry, but he took to Twitter after the All-Star game to express how fun it was to play with the sharpshooter. This is not the first time James has tried to recruit players during All-Star Weekend as Russillo referenced the Lakers star doing the same thing with Giannis Antetokounmpo. While you cannot fault James for trying, it is unlikely going to magically help the Lakers sign Curry.
“Look, LeBron when he took Giannis in the first draft, that was a way [of recruiting],” Russillo added. “Now, this is, I think, a comical waste of time that Giannis would be a free agent and be like, ‘You know what, LeBron did take me first overall in that first All-Star draft. F— it, let’s sign with him. Let’s do this.’ Like Curry going, ‘You know who was complimentary of me All-Star Weekend in 2021? LeBron, yeah, I’m going to sign with the Lakers now. He was always saying good stuff about me, so I think I’ll go do that.'”