With LeBron James set to hit free agency this summer, the belief was that the Lakers were going to make a serious run at signing both him and Thunder All-Star Paul George.
But according to ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the team’s focus has shifted towards the 2019 free-agent class, which could feature Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson.
As the Los Angeles Lakers become more realistic about the franchise’s chances of snaring superstars in the free-agent class of 2018, the front office is increasingly looking through a longer lens in its team building process, league sources told ESPN.
The Lakers aren’t abandoning a summer pursuit of stars, but rather they are recalibrating their focus on a 2019 class that could include San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, league sources told ESPN.
New developments this season have sparked the Lakers’ different approach, according to ESPN.
The belief has been that the Lakers were cutting an unapologetic path to salary-cap freedom for two maximum contract slots this July, clearing the way toward a pursuit of superstars like Cleveland’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins. Now, Cousins has a torn Achilles tendon, George has suggested to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that the Thunder have an advantage in re-signing him, and James is believed to have a reluctance toward signing with the Lakers without an established star immediately joining him.