For almost a year, the new Lakers front office, led by president Magic Johnson, has been gearing up for the loaded 2018 NBA Free Agency class which will be headlined by LeBron James, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins, among others.
"The belief has been that the Lakers were cutting an unapologetic path to salary cap freedom for two maximum contract slots this July, clearing the way toward a pursuit of superstars like Cleveland's LeBron James, Oklahoma City's Paul George and New Orleans' DeMarcus Cousins".
While the team's surge isn't the primary reason for its changing view on upcoming free agency, it has been a factor, according to Wojnarowski.
When you are the Los Angeles Lakers, those hopes are a lot stronger than many would think.
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We have to change something. "We don't dominate too many games with the ball so we've got to keep our shape". We have lost to these twice and done quite well, but we had to change something and went to two up front.
L.A. isn't completely giving up on 2018 free agency, according to ESPN's report, but now is shifting its attention to a 2019 class that could include All-Star talent such as Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson.
"James is believed to have a reluctance toward signing with the Lakers without an established star immediately joining him", Wojnarowski reports. Two players that L.A. has considered trading are Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, and both have played well during a stretch that has seen the Lakers win 10 of 14 games. They are now 10-4 in their last 14 games, and focusing on the long term would give the young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma additional time to grow. Lonzo Ball is part of that core too, but he has missed the past 10 games with a knee injury. Teams' awareness that the Lakers need to move Randle to clear the cap space to make a run at the top free agents this summer has diminished the market significantly.
It's unclear what this means for James, who has a home as well as several business endeavors in Los Angeles.