Report: LeBron James has started recruiting, reached out to Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler
If the Lakers are going to land another superstar this summer — in spite of a front office shooting itself in the foot over and over again — it’s going to be because LeBron James got involved and saved the day. Right now, the Lakers do not look like an organization free agents with options would choose, save for the fact they have LeBron.
LeBron is already hitting the recruiting trail, or at least making the phone calls (that the front office can’t officially), Brian Windhorst of ESPN said on Pardon The Interruption (hat tip The Sporting News).
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he has had contact with Jimmy Butler. There is no tampering enforcement by players. … The thing about it is, I don’t know if texts and calls and maybe a dinner with LeBron is enough for the Lakers to overcome the hurdles that they’re going to have.”
First, Windhorst is correct. While by the letter of the law a player could tamper with another player, in practice the league just lets that go. So if Draymond Green texted Kevin Durant from the parking lot of Oracle Arena after the Warriors’ Game 7 loss to the Cavaliers in 2016, the league turns a blind eye.
Leonard is a target the Lakers want, but I have heard from sources going back to last Summer League that if Leonard comes to Los Angeles he will be a Clipper. That has not changed. Leonard as a person is not fond of a lot of drama around him on the team, and the Lakers with LeBron are always going to be Telenovela level drama.
Butler would make sense as a fit next to LeBron if the two can stay healthy. Kyrie Irving should be a target. Heck, LeBron should hit up everyone, realistic or not (read: Kevin Durant). The Lakers need to get someone and with Rob Pelinka’s reputation around the league, their best chance is LeBron coming through as the rainmaker.