The Los Angeles Lakers will face a tough decision if LeBron James does not sign a contract extension for next season. If James plays out the last year of his deal, the superstar could become a free agent in 2023, meaning the Lakers could lose the legend without getting anything in return.
Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey believes the Lakers should try to trade James rather than give the star a chance to test the free agency next summer. Bailey proposes a possible deal to host a Cavaliers reunion with James. The proposed transaction will see the Lakers send the All-Star to the Cavs in exchange for Jarrett Allen, Kevin Love and three future first-round picks (2024, 2026 and 2028).
And if the Lakers can’t improve their roster or reach an agreement on an extension with LeBron this summer (Rich Paul told ESPN the two sides had ‘productive’ talks on the matter on Thursday), they may need to seriously consider moving. … him,” Bailey explained on August 5, 2022. “Ridiculous as that may seem, it defeats the possible alternative of losing him for nothing in free choice.
“So why not get the Cavs involved? Start by asking about salary filler, Evan Mobley, and four or five choices. When Cleveland says, “No, we’ll just wait until 2023,” the Lakers may recoil a little. And if they end up with a 24-year-old All-Star and three or four picks, they can at least sell the fans that this is preferable to losing him outright.
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Allen is coming off his first All-Star appearance
Love is the recognizable Cavs player in this deal, but Allen would be a more important player for the Lakers to land. Allen is coming off the first All-Star campaign of his career averaging 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game during his 56 starts in 2021-22. While the proposed deal will give the Lakers a fumble alongside Anthony Davis, it would allow the big man to focus solely on his favored power forward position for minutes.
Allen has four seasons left on his massive five-year $100 million contract. Love may be a tougher sell for the Lakers given his $28.9 million salary this coming season, but the good news is that this is the last season of his $120 million contract.
The five-time All-Star has been able to transform his career into a valuable role player. Love averaged 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shot 39.2% from behind the three-point line while starting just four games for Cleveland. Even so, it’s still hard to justify Love’s nearly $29 million salary, given his shift in responsibilities.
NBA GM labels the Cavs a threat to sign LeBron
Speaking to Heavy.com insider Sean Deveney, an Eastern Conference general manager noted that the Lakers will likely keep James, but still see the Cavaliers as a threat to get hold of the superstar. The NBA director indicated that this will be more likely to happen in 2024 when Bronny James qualifies for draft.
“The two things I would be concerned about if I were the Lakers are the Cavaliers and Bronny,” the general manager explained to Heavy. “He wants to play with Bronny and he has said he will if the opportunity arises. He never said he would do it in Bronny’s rookie season, but if he decides he wants to do it in 2024 then sign.” LeBron only for one more year and will at least be playing with his son somewhere, but there are also variables like is Bronny definitely a one off?
“And there’s the Cleveland thing. The Cavs could put themselves in position to get hold of Bronny and sign LeBron at once in 2024. That’s a home run for that team. They will keep that in mind, whatever they do for years to come. So the Lakers window here, it’s very small.’
Given some of the recent blockbuster deals we’ve seen in the league, this transaction doesn’t look like a draw for the Lakers, especially considering they’re moving one of the top two NBA players ever. Still, the Lakers will have little influence if James doesn’t sign a new deal. Interested teams can choose to wait and try to sign James outright when the free agency starts in 2023. All of this makes for a tricky situation for Lakers CEO Rob Pelinka to balance, as no executive wants to be the person to trade King James.
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