Lakers Could Replace LeBron James With $176 Million Star: Analyst

LeBron James

Getty The Los Angeles Lakers may need to replace LeBron James if the star bolts in free agency.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James could be a free agent in the coming months, and the franchise needs to have a contingency plan in case the team loses King James. ESPN’s Chris Herring put together a list of moves he would like to see happen this offseason.

In one of the more wild moves, Herring has James opting out of his contract and signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. The analyst plays out this scenario and has the Lakers signing Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George as a result. Like James, George would need to opt out of his current deal for Los Angeles to be able to sign the veteran.

“If the Lakers lose James, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them move extremely quickly to hold things together,” Herring wrote in a May 28, 2024 story titled, “NBA free agency 2024: 10 blockbuster trades, deals that need to happen this offseason.” “The clearest way to do so would be maxing out George, who, even at 34, still stands out as one of the NBA’s best two-way players. At three deflections per game on defense, he ranked among the league’s top 10 in that regard, while also logging a career-best mark from three-point range at 41.3% on nearly eight tries per game.

“It’s not clear that the Clippers — who agreed to a slightly less than max extension of three years with Leonard — want to max out George,” Herring added. “The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Clippers were reluctant to go that far, and have so far offered him less than that. (Also of note: Harden is also a free agent this summer.) All of which might present an opening for the Lakers if they’re willing to spend.”

Lakers Rumors: LeBron James’ Future Remains a Mystery

James is slated to have a $51.4 million cap hit in 2024-25 in the final season of a two-year, $99 million contract. The superstar can opt out of his deal, but James has yet to reveal his decision.

There is added scrutiny on James as his son Bronny James is one of the prospects in the 2024 NBA draft. James has talked openly about his desire to play with his son before his career is over.

Lakers Rumors: Could Paul George Replace LeBron James in LA?

George is slated to have a $48.7 million cap hit in 2024-25 in the final season of a four-year, $176.2 million deal. The nine-time All-Star can opt out of his contract to become a free agent this offseason.

Under this scenario, the Lakers would form a new star duo with George playing alongside Anthony Davis. The Southern California native has long been linked to the Lakers, but so far the rumors have never come to fruition. George averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game while hitting 41.3% of three-point attempts in 74 starts this season.

James has given no indication that he plans to leave the Lakers, but all options are on the table until the star reveals his decision. Until NBA free agency hits, there will be plenty of speculation about James’ future and the potential dominoes that will fall as a result.