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Lakers reportedly shift focus to 2019 free agent class

LeBron James may not be the Lakers’ top priority after ll.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

There is so much turmoil with the Cleveland Cavaliers lately that it’s tough to keep track of every storyline. With locker room fighting, to injuries, to issues between the roster and management, there’s no shortage of drama.

But as is always the case when free agency approaches for LeBron James, the speculation of where he may go is the number one focus. So far this year LeBron has has, understandably, avoided the question. But it seems like one of his potential options is now less likely.

As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the Los Angeles Lakers are now focused on the 2019 free agent class instead of the 2018 class:

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.

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.

The Lakers not going all-in on James may provide some insight into what his thought process is heading into this summer. Typically, when free agency is looming for LeBron you see several teams clear cap space and position themselves just to have a meeting with him. That isn’t happening so far this season, limiting the number of realistic landing spots for him.

Part of the theory with the Lakers as a landing spot for LeBron was that it was a team that could scrap their existing roster and become a landing spot for multiple free agents, as the Miami Heat did in 2010. But unless LeBron signs a one-year deal with the Cavs and pushes this saga back another year, it’s tough to envision players that would join him in Los Angeles to form a superteam that could actually be competitive.

This likely means that the only way LeBron could put himself in a better basketball position this summer would be through a sign and trade. Which is of course something the Cavs would likely be less than thrilled to take part in.

As bad as things look for Cleveland at the moment, they still have talents and assets to put themselves back in a good basketball position. If you have been looking for some good news, this can serve as a bubble of fresh air in the toxic gas that has been the Cavs over the last month.