LeBron James wants you to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
Okay, maybe not you or I, but James is doing his best Uncle Sam impression as he tries to recruit some of the top free agents in the NBA this offseason.
According to ESPN’s Briand Windhorst, the Lakers’ superstar has reportedlybeen in contact with Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler in order to recruit the two upcoming free agents to join the Lakers.
Windhorst appeared on the show Pardon the Interruption and said that James has been in contact with both players.
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process,” said Windhorst. “I’ve heard he’s had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler. There’s no tampering enforcement by players. And while Magic Johnson, the guy who got in trouble for tampering before, is no longer there, LeBron is the “tamperer in chief’ of the Lakers right now. The thing about it is, I don’t know if texts, and calls, and maybe a dinner with LeBron, is enough for the Lakers to overcome their hurdles that they’re gonna have.”
“From what I understand, [LeBron] has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 24, 2019
Speaking of dinner, James was also reportedly spotted having dinner with two different superstars on Wednesday night.
According to the Twitter account of @tashcoug, James was spotted at celebrity hot spot, Nobu in Malibu, dining with New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
This is lebron and AD but I got up against the glass and confirmed it was them pic.twitter.com/j7YFFWrnDm
— ñatasha ⚾️ (@tashcoug) May 23, 2019
Westbrook recently signed a contract extension that keeps him with the Thunder until the 2023 season, so his reported attendance at the dinner doesn’t mean a lot, but Davis is not only represented by James’ close friend Rich Paul (who was also reportedly at the dinner), but was linked to the Lakers during the trade deadline in February.
Even after the Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery last week, Davis still reportedly is demanding a trade this summer and it’s no secret that both James and Davis himself, want to go to Los Angeles.
Davis has said on numerous occasions that the Lakers are his preferred trade destination, now its simply a matter of will new Pelicans’ President of Basketball Operations, David Griffin, grant him that wish.
In addition to Leonard, Butler, and Davis, LeBron will likely try and also recruit other free agents this offseason like former teammate Kyrie Irving, Warriors’ stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, or Hornets’ point guard Kemba Walker.
However, with the dysfunctional Lakers front office bickering and backstabbing on national television, it’s yet to be seen if free agents still see Tinseltown as one of the premier destinations in the NBA.
Many players, Durant and Leonard included, might want to avoid the mess that has become the current Lakers, after reports of betrayal, in-fighting, and ineptitude have taken over the headlines in recent days.
Longtime Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who recruited LeBron to Los Angeles, has since stepped away from the team he loves because of backstabbing and lack of institutional control.
General Manager Rob Pelinka is an inexperienced NBA executive, and according to Johnson, is “not to be trusted.” Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, can’t keep her house in order, and has too many cooks in the kitchen.
The Lakers just botched their first two head coaching choices in Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue, and instead settled for Frank Vogel (who they originally saw as an assistant on the staff), and forcibly paired him with two-time former head coach Jason Kidd.
Pelinka told reporters on Monday that the Lakers are still a very, very appealing place for great players, citing the team’s “stability and togetherness.” No, it wasn’t opposite day, but what else is he going to say?
In the meantime, until the Lakers can publicly get things in order, it will be interesting to see if LeBron or anyone else will be able to lure big names back to Los Angeles. At the end of the day, it won’t be surprising to see the Lakers whiff on some of the big free agent fish, and settle for the likes of DeMarcus Cousins or DeAndre Jordan.