However, Warriors owner Joe Lacob is not worried about his superstar bolting south to Los Angeles, despite James’ reported efforts to recruit his rival.
Lacob was asked by Tim Kawakami of The Athletic about the report from Brian Windhorst that James has been putting on the full-court press for Curry and gave some insight on the situation from his point of view.
“Look, Steph Curry, if he really wanted to leave at the end of his contract, he’s a free agent, he’s earned the right, he can do it,” Lacob told Kawakami. “I said that with Kevin Durant. I’m still friends with Kevin Durant and I still really like him. And I will always love him for what he did for this franchise. By the way, he took less money when he was here. He really helped us. We were able to get a couple of other players. … Players don’t usually do that and he did that. So I have great respect and admiration for that for Kevin. And I would for Steph no matter what he does, too. He’s done a lot for us, we’ve done a lot for him. I would hope that we provide the environment for him that he wants to be at for the rest of his.
“I’m certainly not worried about the guy you mentioned recruiting him. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Windhorst: The Recruiting of Steph Has Begun
Windhorst initially talked about James’ recruiting efforts on his Hoop Collective podcast back in March.
“I thought it was hilarious over All-Star Weekend, LeBron praising Steph up and down … how much he loves his game, how much he respects him,” the ESPN NBA insider said. “LeBron has obviously put the full-court press on, not the full-court press, but 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 that the Lakers would have a swing at him.”
While Curry would give the Lakers a dominant big three, alongside James and Anthony Davis, the team would have to do some major cap gymnastics to make it work. That is unless the two-time MVP was willing to sacrifice some money to make it work.
Curry’s contract is up after next season with the Warriors, although the 33-year-old will be eligible to sign a four-year, $215.4 million extension this offseason. Lacob was clear that he wants Curry to be a lifer with the Warriors.
“My full expectation is that Steph will be with us for the remainder of his career,” Lacob said. “I think he wants that, we want that. I really don’t have anything to say about that other than we’re in the middle or start of that process. That’ll go on this summer.”
James Unsure What Future Holds After Current Deal
James is 36 years old and is under contract with the Lakers until 2023. There’s no certainty that he’ll remain in Los Angeles after that and he’s expressed a desire to play with his son, Bronny.
“The best thing about it is the year I’ll be a free agent will be the same year my oldest son graduates high school,” James said in a conference call, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “So I’ll have some options to see, for me personally, what I want to do forward, being around my family, being around my son more or continue to play this game I love with great health and great spirits. We’ll see.”
James, a four-time MVP, dealt with a high-ankle sprain this season but is expected to be back to full strength for another run at a title next year.