It’s a series of coincidences… or are they?
• In the summer of 2014, LeBron James can opt out of his deal with the Miami Heat and become a free agent. (So can both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.)
• While the Lakers have geared up for an expensive two-year run at a title, in the summer of 2014 Kobe Bryant may well retire and every player not named Steve Nash comes off the payroll (although the Lakers want to and likely will re-sign Dwight Howard to a max deal next summer).
A lot of NBA executives do not believe in coincidences — they think the Lakers are targeting LeBron, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN.
Several teams’ executives have told ESPN.com they believe the Lakers are positioning themselves to make a run at LeBron James in 2014, when the Miami Heat star can choose to become a free agent….
“It’s not a mistake that all those deals end the same year Kobe’s does. They have probably been planning for their next phase for a while,” said one general manager. “The Busses and [Lakers GM] Mitch [Kupchak] are always thinking about the next big deal.”
There are a whole lot of things that could blow that plan up.
For one, LeBron James could win another ring or two and decide he doesn’t want to break up the big three in Miami. He may well opt out in 2014 only to re-sign in Miami with a max deal (remember he took less to make the Heat come together). After his last free agent experience he may not be eager to go down that road again (although you have to think it would be handled better).
Then there is Kobe, who has talked openly about retirement, but if the Lakers win a ring and they have Nash and Howard that next season, Kobe may come back for another year or two to chase more titles. He likely would take a Kevin Garnett/Tim Duncan style pay cut for that next contract, but that likely kills a shot at James.
And those are just the obvious ones.
But after the moves the Lakers have pulled off, both this past summer and really throughout the franchise’s history, it would not be a shock that they are thinking about it.
Frankly, I’m not sure it’s a shock if they pulled it off.