Lakers eye Big Three
THE Los Angeles Lakers are eyeing their own Big Three for the 2018-19 NBA season that unwraps in mid-October this year.
The team wants Cleveland’s LeBron James, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Oklahoma City’s Paul George via free agency or a trade.
James and George are eligible for unrestricted free agency by July 1. As early as last summer, George, a California native, had already stated he wanted to play with the Los Angeles Lakers and won’t re-sign with his then-employer, Indiana, when his contract expires in July. Without the advantage of a no-trade clause, George was shipped by the Pacers to the Thunder, who took him in despite only a year remaining in his contract and without any assurance that he would remain in OKC thereafter on a new long-term deal, in exchange for 6-foot-10, 22-year-old frontliner Domantas Sabonis, the Portland-born son of former Trail Blazers center and Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis from Lithuania, and guard Victor Oladipo, who morphed into an All-Star, topped the NBA in steals, and earned NBA All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA Third Team honors this past campaign.
And now, Leonard, an El-Ay native, also declared that he wants out of San Antonio and hopes to relocate to Los Angeles, preferable with the Lakers (and not the Clippers).
Leonard has yet to ask the Spurs to trade him. He can opt out of his current contract after the 2018-19 season and become an unrestricted free agent in July 2019.
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Next to LeBron James, NBA teams are after San Antonio franchise cornerstone Kawhi Leonard even if the multi-dimensional Spurs forward still has a year left (2018-19) in his contract and can only opt out in the summer of 2019 to become an unrestricted free agent.
This summer, Leonard is eligible for a super maximum contract extension of $219 million over five years but the Spurs are holding back after he played only nine games this past campaign due to a right quadriceps injury and underwent treatment and rehabilitation in New York under the care of his uncle-adviser Dennis Robertson and his own team of doctors instead of relying on the Spurs medical team.
The move eventually strained Leonard’s relationship with the coaching staff and his teammates.
If the contract extension is not offered this summer, Leonard may yet demand a trade or leave the Spurs by exercising his opt-out clause in July 2019.
The NBA free-agency race officially begins on July 1 (July 2 noon, Manila time). For the next five days, teams and players may communicate with each other and negotiate for trades and/or agree to new contracts. However, they are not allowed to sign any contracts during the period. The five-day moratorium, during which the NBA spends time to determine the various salary-cap figures following a fiscal report, ends at noon of July 6 (July 7, 12 a.m., MT). Thereafter, signings and trades can be made official.
Other key NBA offseason dates to remember include: June 24 – deadline for restricted free agents to exercise player options; June 29 – deadline to exercise player, team or early termination options; June 21 (June 22 MT) – NBA draft; June 25 (June 26 MT) – 2nd NBA Awards Night; July 6-17 – NBA Summer League in Las Vegas; July 13 – deadline to withdraw qualifying offers to restricted free agents; and September 7 (September 8 MT) – 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.
The 2018-19 NBA salary cap is projected to be $101 million per team or just a measly upgrade of around $2 million over the $99.093 million figure last season.
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