Entering his sixteenth season, LeBron James does not have time to wait and help develop young talent. At first glance, it does not appear there is an option this summer available that will put him in position to capture his fourth championship next season. But could a trade change all of that?
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton explained how the Los Angeles Lakers could showcase a big three next season featuring LeBron James, Paul George … and Kawhi Leonard.
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If that can happen, the Warriors plans for a three-peat might just not be happening.
Pelton explains several things would have to happen in order to make this work such as Leonard making it clear he is done with Spurs and will only re-sign with the Lakers, the Lakers making several moves to clear cap space, both LeBron and Geroge signing with the Lakers, and the Spurs and Lakers agreeing on a deal to send Leonard to Los Angeles.
Even as all the obstacles add up, this is far from impossible. Getting Leonard to only commit to the Lakers – decreasing his trade value elsewhere – is not that far out of the realm of possibilities as Nate Robinson confidently said he heard Leonard wanted out of San Antonito and wouldn’t mind being “home” (born in Los Angeles).
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Make no mistake about it, the often proposed Lakers lineup centered around LeBron, George, and all their young talent simply is not winning a championship next season. While that Lakers team would be darn good, it isn’t even a top three team in the NBA. As much potential as this young Lakers nucleus has, young players do not win championships.
What can win a championship by next spring, however, is a roster built around the best player in the world, another top 5 player, and a top 15 player in the NBA. Not only would the combination of the three be an athletic nightmare to defend, together they could actually defend Kevin Durant, who has arguably outplayed LeBron in the last two Finals.
The reason this scenario should be the most enticing one for LeBron is the fact in involves Kawhi Leonard. Unless his injury really is a concern, Leonard is the best two-way player in the NBA, can take over games late, and with LeBron they would offset the one-two punch of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.
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Having George as the third option is ideal when taking on a team as lethal as the Warriors. If George and LeBron come to the Lakers, and Leonard does not, the team’s Robin may not even be better than Golden State’s third option or Houston’s second.
Of course, this potential move would require much of the roster’s depth to be depleted. As Pelton pointed out, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma could be sent elsewhere to make this work with Brandon Ingram staying put.
Even with a weak bench, come postseason time, having LeBron, Leonard, George, Ingram, and [insert a center] on the court is without question a championship lineup.
Bringing in all three superstars in is difficult, but put nothing past LeBron James. If he is hell-bent on putting himself in the best position to win a championship next season, like rumored, this is the scenario he should be working fearlessly to assemble.
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