Lakers Shift Focus To 2019 Free Agents: Does This Mean They’re Out On LeBron James?

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Los Angeles Lakers fans’ dreams of watching LeBron James orchestrate offenses and chase down would-be scorers in purple and gold might already be dashed, months before the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar hits free agency.

After sacrificing D’Angelo Russell to help in their quest to carve out enough cap space to accommodate two maximum-earning superstars in the 2018 offseason, the Lakers now “are recalibrating their focus” onto the 2019 free-agent class, according to ESPN.

The Lakers’ revealing this information could serve one, two, or, most likely, all three of these purposes: One, because they haven’t yet cleared quite enough cap space, they’re trying to strengthen their positions in trying to trade Jordan Clarkson, Luol Deng, and Julius Randle, who stand in the way of their having two max slots; Two, between the team’s struggles (they’re 21-31), LeBron’s stated desire to compete for championships immediately, Paul George‘s increasing comfort with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and DeMarcus Cousins’ ACL injury, they feel they probably won’t be a preferred destination among the 2018 free-agent class’ premier players; And three, as a result, they want the Lakers faithful to temper their expectations for the summer of 2018.

It gets worse for Lakers fans. Not only has the organization all but surrendered on their ability to lure the best free agents this offseason, but the crop of available superstars in 2019 won’t exactly bowl you over. Sure, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson could be on the market by then, but few expect any of them to part with their teams. After that, there’s a huge drop-off, unless the Lakers are in love with the likes of Kevin Love or Tobias Harris.

But still, as of now, they won’t have the room for two max-contract free agents in 2019. Not until they can do away with the likes of Clarkson and Deng.

If that doesn’t happen, expect to hear the Lakers are “recalibrating” for 2020 free agency around this time next year.