It’s been well-publicized just how active the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to be during the free agency period this upcoming summer, with multiple marquee free agents connected to the Lakers future plans in one way or another.
One of the biggest names to be linked to the Lakers is Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, who has been rumored to be heading to Los Angeles for almost his entire career every time he hits free agency, but the rumors have picked up traction after his most recent loss in the 2017 Finals to the Golden State Warriors, and the drama that ensued after former teammate Kyrie Irving requested a trade out of Cleveland.
Even though rumors have died down as of late, and nabbing James in free agency may be a bit of a long shot, Los Angeles does have backup plans if they predict LBJ won’t be heading their way.
According to NBA Insider Eric Pincus, who appeared on the LakersNation Podcast recently, the Lakers could be looking to make two major moves before the trade deadline in February of next year to bolster their roster:
“According to NBA insider Eric Pincus, the Lakers will target both DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George closer to the NBA Trade Deadline. “Plan A for the Lakers is still LeBron James. Having said that, at the deadline, the Lakers have two targets: Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins. I think George is more of a long shot since the Thunder seem to have figured things out over the last 10 games. However, the Pelicans are a different story because they’re just above .500. If they don’t climb the standings, they will be open to move Cousins,” Pincus said during the LakersNation Podcast.”
If this rumor turns out to be true, this could be a bombshell.
Given the recent struggles of both the Thunder — who have admittedly turned things around after a disappointing start — and Pelicans, it’s not that far-fetched to believe either team would be open to trading their All-Star talent if offered the right assets.
Paul George has already made it publically known how much he wants to play for the Lakers well before he was a member of the Thunder. In fact, it was one of the main reasons he was traded, as he informed the Pacers’ front office he wouldn’t be resigning with the team as he wanted to test free agency, leading to Indiana trading him to at least get something in return.
Depending on how the rest of Oklahoma City’s season goes up until the All-Star break, it’s a possibility that if OKC are underperforming and have even the slightest bit of doubt that PG-13 won’t resign with them come free agency, they could be looking to move him so they don’t lose him for diddly squat.
When it comes to DeMarcus Cousins, the situation is much less cut and dry, at least from the Lakers point of view.
Cousins has never truly been linked with the Lakers in terms of free agent movement, even though there were rumors swirling last year that LA was pursuing him before he was traded to NOLA.
The situation in New Orleans has been a dire one to say the least, as after nabbing DMC from Sacramento at the All-Star break last year, didn’t even manage to make the playoffs with the Davis-Cousins pairing, proving the nay-sayers right in that trading for Cousins was barely going to shift the needle for New Orleans’ playoff hopes.
So far this season, it’s been much of the same story. New Orleans currently sit at eighth place in the West, with the likes of the Clippers — who will be getting Blake Griffin back soon — and the Utah Jazz — who are waiting on the return of Rudy Gobert — slowly but surely gaining ground on the Pels.
If Davis happens to go down with another major injury this year, New Orleans run a real risk of missing the playoffs once again, and if that does happen to be the case, may be popping Cousins up on the market.
The Lakers do have the assets to trade for both stars — maybe not both at the same time, but definitely one or the other — as Julius Randle continues to prove he deserves to be starting after his great performances off the bench for LA, as well as Jordan Clarkson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who are both expendable if the opportunity arises to trade for an All-Star.
Even though King James may not be heading to Los Angeles after this season is through, the Lakers still have a chance to improve their roster in a big way before free agency even hits.