Will top-tier free agents pass on joining LeBron James on Lakers?
If the Los Angeles Lakers manage to make a big splash this offseason in the free-agent market, the case can be made it would vault the team to contender status. The problem is that “most league insiders” believe that top-tier free agents will bypass L.A. despite the presence of LeBron James.
The consensus reportedly is that the Lakers could fail to even bring in a marquee free agent, let alone one of the biggest names on the market, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic.
“The Lakers need to project stability going into yet another critical offseason if they hope to attract a second superstar to pair with James. After Paul George ignored the Lakers last summer, most league insiders believe the biggest names in this year’s loaded class of free agents will follow his lead.”
There have been whispers, not to mention mounting evidence, that instead of LeBron James being viewed as an asset in wooing free agents, the superstar is actually a liability.
As noted, the presence of James on the Lakers could not convince George to head to L.A., even though it was long believed the superstar had eyes on playing in his hometown long before The King’s arrival.
The actual reason behind why superstars don’t want to be teammates with James is not clear. However, it merits noting that Kevin Durant — one of those big names who would have the option of signing with the Lakers, however unlikely — had some interesting comments about the relative unattractiveness of joining a team headed by James.
Kyrie Irving’s eagerness to jump ship in Cleveland to get out of LeBron’s sizable shadow may give some superstars pause as well, although it appears the Boston Celtics superstar has softened his stance on his former teammate as time has passed.
The fact that the Lakers suffered through a dismal first season of the LeBron James era arguably is not helping matters, either.
All that said, the offseason is long and many things can change during it, so perhaps it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach concerning how things may shake out in L.A.