If LeBron James heads to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer – and the odds of that happening now seem higher than ever – expect Lakers bosses Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to shoot for a Big 3 of LeBron, Paul George and LeBron’s BFF Carmelo Anthony. George to the Lakers, in particular, seems like a done deal as The Ringer reported in February that George would most likely leave the Thunder this summer unless the team reached the NBA Finals. Of course, not only did OKC not reach the Finals – they flamed out in the first round to a less-talented Jazz squad.
George has not shied away from talking about playing for Lakers since the scenario became a real possibility over the past two years. This is from The Oklahoman’s Erik Horne this past Saturday: Said George: "Everybody would love to play for their home, but that’s not the only option for why I want to go somewhere.”
That’s what George is saying publicly but the feeling around the league is that the first shoe to drop in the Lakers’ summer plans will be for George to sign with LA – on the promise that Johnson and Pelinka will convince LeBron to sign with the Lakers as well.
“I feel really good about Rob and I getting somebody in a room and talking to them about coming and playing for the Lakers,” said Johnson, the Pied Piper of NBA tampering, to the Los Angeles Times earlier this month.
There were also these whispers in the George to the Lakers rumor department in the past week. Basketball Insiders wrote, “Most in NBA circles see George heading to his personal dream situation in LA with the Lakers or looking at the Philadelphia 76ers.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted a week ago, “The Lakers plan hasn’t changed. They want to get both [LeBron and George].”
George and Anthony got along quite well this season in OKC despite the subpar overall results, and there’s reason to think they’ve talked about joining forces in LA. Anthony offered little reason to believe that he would even think about returning to the Thunder this past weekend as he used only the word “interesting” to describe the Thunder’s season, and he scoffed at coming off the bench.
Having made hundreds of millions of dollars already in his career, Anthony is likely at the stage in his career when he’d be willing to take a discount to play in his preferred spot. He could opt in to the final year of his contract with the Thunder, which would pay him $28 million. The Lakers would not be able to offer him anything near that if they wanted to place him alongside LeBron and George.
That said, LeBron and Anthony have long wanted to play with one another and this summer would likely be the final time in their careers where they could make it happen.