Los Angeles (AFP) – This could be a monumental franchise changing offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers thanks to a star-studded free agent market that is expected to feature LeBron James and Paul George.
The Lakers are hoping to return to their glory days by building a potential super team via one of the strongest free agent offerings in years.
That could mean luring James and George, who has had his eye on the Lakers for some time now. Adding that dynamic duo would give the Lakers more leverage in trade talks for Kawhi Leonard, who wants out of San Antonio.
George and James have until Friday to formally exercise their player options on the final years of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents.
Getting all three is a scenario that Lakers fans have dreamed about and would bring back memories of the Showtime Dynasty of the 1980s. George is from Palmdale, California, northwest of Los Angeles, and Leonard is from Riverside, 88 kilometres (55 miles) east.
Lakers president Magic Johnson said earlier this week that if he can’t deliver superstars via trades or the free agent market within two years, he will step down.
Unrestricted free agents can agree to deals on Sunday. Contracts can’t be officially signed until July 6.
But it isn’t going to be easy for anyone trying to assemble a team that can topple the mighty Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers of course aren’t the only team that would love to land James. By the end of the offseason it will probably show that the vast majority of moves will be affected by what James does as veterans delay their own decisions on the chance they might be able to join James’ team.
There have been reports that James has been calling other free agents trying to form another super team. ESPN reported on Thursday that he texted Kevin Durant, but Durant is expected to remain with Golden State.
James hasn’t ruled out staying in Cleveland but he has a reputation for seeking out greener pastures and no fans know that better than the Cavaliers’ faithful.
George hasn’t been a good fit alongside Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. On Thursday he told the Thunder he would not be opting in for the final year of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.
He said previously he hopes to sign with the Lakers this summer but Philadelphia and Houston are also interested in luring him. If he stays in Oklahoma City he would be looking at a five-year, $176 million contract but he has been very vocal about saying he would like to play at home.
Multiple teams have reportedly made trade offers to the Spurs for Leonard, who can’t opt out of his contract until next year.
So teams like Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to figure out how much to offer San Antonio in a trade for Leonard without knowing what their chances of re-signing him are next offseason.