The Los Angeles Lakers were previously viewed as the no.1 destination for Paul George as soon as he hits the free agency market, presumably next year upon opting out of the final year of his current contract. However, the status quo surrounding George’s free agency has drastically changed following a series of moves executed by the Oklahoma City Thunder front-office.

All of a sudden, the All-Star wingman is leaning towards staying in Oklahoma long-term, casting a cloud of doubt on Magic Johnson’s ‘grand plan’ for the Lakers in the summer of 2018.

With George slowly buying into Sam Presti’s own grand scheme of things, the Lakers are expected to shift their attention on other game-changing free-agency targets.

The Banana Boat Boys

Regardless of George’s decision at the end of 2017/18 NBA season, the Lakers will be getting a closer look from none other than LeBron James. The four-time NBA MVP has been dropping hints about his next stop after Cleveland. The Lakers, who will have a massive cap space that ranges between $50-$70 million next summer, are believed to be the frontrunners for James in 2018 because of its location and promising young talents the franchise already possesses.

Luring James into wearing the iconic purple-and-gold is just the first step to what will likely be Magic’s plan B in the event George sticks with Russell Westbrook in OKC.

The Lakers executive is aware that signing James automatically makes the Lakers an enticing landing spot for other marquee free-agents next year. Perhaps, Magic could find a way to accommodate the other three members of the Banana Boat boys namely Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.


Another player the Lakers are expected to pursue next summer is DeMarcus Cousins.

The purple-and-gold franchise was one of the strong suitors for the All-Star big man before the Sacramento Kings ultimately dealt him to the New Orleans Pelicans at last season’s All-Star break.

Although his partnership with fellow Kentucky standouts Anthony Davis did not click right off the bat, Cousins will give the Pelicans’ twin-tower experiment another try.

A disappointing first half for the Pelicans may prompt the front-office to shop Cousins before he gets a chance to bolt out without compensation. The Lakers have the assets to engage in serious trade talks with the Pelicans, but Magic and Rob Pelinka will likely wait for the big man to hit the free agency market since they are trying to preserve their cap flexibility as much as possible.

The Lakers already missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, and given the current order of power in the Western Conference, a fifth losing season is very likely. However, despite the Lakers enduring arguably the worst stretch in franchise’s history, the bright lights of Los Angeles will continue to be enticing sights for free agents.