Are the Los Angeles Lakers planning to lure LeBron James away from the Miami Heat in 2014? The idea isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.
Nobody thought that the Lakers would be able to acquire both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this summer. There were some rumblings over the past six months that Howard could end up in L.A. There was some baseless gossip about Steve Nash perhaps coming to town at various points. However, nobody, absolutely nobody, predicted that the Lakers would be able to get both.
Could Mitch Kupchak and Co. pull off a similar checkmate-like maneuver in 2014? According to a fascinating new report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst – yes.
In his most recent article, Windhorst correctly notes that a series of events that are all scheduled to occur in 2014 may end up giving LeBron the perfect opportunity to jump head first into Laker Land.
Those events? Well, there is the fact that LeBron can opt out and become a free agent in 2014. Then there is Kobe Bryant repeatedly indicating that he is tentatively planning to call it quits in two years. And then there is the little-discussed fact that, even though the Lakers’ payroll is extremely bloated in 2013-14, it gets much lighter in 2014-15 when Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake and Jordan Hill all come off the books. Essentially it will just be Howard (presuming he re-signs) and a whole lot of room for another superstar.
"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," one general manager told Windhorst. "The Busses and [Lakers GM] Mitch [Kupchak] are always thinking about the next big deal."
The idea of LeBron adorned in purple and gold admittedly sounds a little crazy right now – but so did the prospect of him leaving Cleveland three years ago. His No. 1 goal isn’t to be the most loyal guy in the history of professional sports, it’s to be successful. If he feels at some point as though the Heat are no longer his best chance at a title, he will leave. Plain and simple.
"Even if the Heat win the next two titles there's a feeling that LeBron is going to become a free agent in two years no matter what," a league executive told Windhorst.
Obviously we are still a long ways away from 2014, and clearly a lot of stars need to align in order for us to see LeBron in a purple and gold. That said, when you have a team with a proven track record of doing the impossible, and a player with a proven track record of doing what nobody thinks he has the guts to do – never say never.