The Lakers structured their salary cap to make sure they would have space next summer for a maximum-salaried player—whether he comes via free agency or trade. League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn’t be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Cavs never called the Blazers, but James’ interest has led to speculation about the Lakers trading for Lillard.
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James wants to play with Lillard, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who recently reported that has been the case “since before LeBron even signed with the Lakers.” ESPN’s Zach Lowe also noted that James has a healthy respect for Lillard’s game. (For context below, Lowe made a “crazy prediction” the Trail Blazers could fall short of expectations this season, leading to the departure of a key member of the franchise.) “The most enticing mega-trade on the board not involving Anthony Davis: Lillard to the Lakers for a package centered around Lonzo Ball. Lillard is a perfect fit next to LeBron, and LeBron respects Lillard’s game, per sources familiar with the matter. The Lakers could absorb Lillard into cap space this summer without sending out giant matching salaries — salaries they don’t have on the books.”
With all this being said, yet another star could be staring at change, and this time it could help form an L.A. superteam. Here’s a quote by Kevin O’Connor, from The Ringer podcast: LeBron wants to play with Damian Lillard. He’s one of the guys he’d like to play with and that’s chatter around the league. It has been since before LeBron signed with the Lakers, it was one of the many indicators that he was heading there.
The most enticing mega-trade on the board not involving Anthony Davis: Lillard to the Lakers for a package centered around Lonzo Ball. Lillard is a perfect fit next to LeBron, and LeBron respects Lillard’s game, per sources familiar with the matter. The Lakers could absorb Lillard into cap space this summer without sending out giant matching salaries — salaries they don’t have on the books.
The three-time All-Star point guard, speaking publicly for the first time this summer, squashed rumors of his unhappiness and shot down reports he’s angling to leave Rip City for the Los Angeles Lakers or any other franchise. “I’m not unhappy,” Lillard said Sunday. “I love where I live. I love the organization. I love our coaching staff. I love where I am.”
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May 25, 2019 | 5:10 am EDT Update
Irving apologized to James for the way things ended between them in Cleveland, and the All-Star guard reportedly “has had discussions” about joining the Lakers this summer. A James-Irving reunion might seem far-fetched, but the two stars hung out together Thursday in Los Angeles, and then James liked a photoshopped picture of Irving in a Lakers jersey.
Even though the Lakers talk is the hot rumor, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan poured some cold water on it Friday on the latest Hoop Collective podcast. “I did a little digging around and my feeling is very strongly that while LeBron and Kyrie have kissed and made up, that Kyrie is not going there,” she said. “He’s just not. I just don’t believe it. And I think people close to him just don’t believe it either.”
No LeBron hammer dunks in May. No LeBron chase-down blocks in June. No LeBron mini-dramas. No winding, reflective postgame sermons. No leviathan for upstarts to slay. “It’s just weird,” the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green said. “More as a basketball fan than anything: ‘Damn, Bron not there.’ It’s super weird. You always relish the opportunity to play against a talent like that.”
Mike D’Antoni said negotiations are taking place that he is hopeful will keep him in Houston beyond next season. D’Antoni has one year left on his Rockets deal. “We’ve been in contract discussions and we still are about the extension,” D’Antoni said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I think I can go two or three more years at the level I want to be at and everything will play out in the near future.”
D’Antoni said a lot of work has already been done toward completing a contract extension. “It’s a good ways (into it). I don’t do it. That’s my agent. He takes care of that stuff. They’ve been discussing it for a long time now. It just hasn’t been a couple weeks. It’s been awhile that they’ve been talking. So they’ll figure it out. “Everybody likes security. It’s just a matter of okay this is the direction the organization wants to go. I want to be a part of it. It’s just normal business and we just got to take care of business.”