Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Opposing NBA executives think the Los Angeles Lakers are setting things up to make a run at LeBron James in the summer of 2014, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports.Before we go on, realise that this is based on conjecture and circumstance, not any tangible evidence.
But the point is this: If Kobe retires in two years like he says he will, the Lakers will have enough cap room to sign LeBron (if he opts out), pair him with Dwight Howard, and presumably dominate the NBA for the final years of those two players’ careers.
LeBron can opt out of his deal, which would pay in $20 million, after the 2014-15 season and become a free agent. Windhorst says he’ll do that no matter what happens in Miami in the next two years.
As you can see in the chart below, the Lakers books will be nearly totally clean in 2014-15. They just have Steve Nash signed and will likely have Dwight Howard for ~$20 million when they re-sign him.
“It’s not a mistake that all those deals end the same year Kobe’s does. They have probably been planning for their next phase for a while,” one unnamed exec told Windhorst.
Here’s their cap situation via the excellent Hoops Hype:
Photo: Hoops Hype
More than any other franchise in the NBA, the Lakers philosophy is to keep the team competitive by replacing ageing stars with younger ones.
The main takeaway from this rumour isn’t that the Lakers are DEFINITELY getting LeBron, it’s that the Lakers have been so smart that they are going to seamlessly transition out of the Kobe Era.
They can do seemingly whatever they want in 2014, and that includes going after LeBron.
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