FA Rumors: Lakers, LeBron, Harden, Klay, George, Magic, DeRozan, More

Having confirmed on Saturday that LeBron James would be open to accepting less than the maximum salary in certain scenarios, agent Rich Paul tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the idea would be for the Lakers to add an “impact player” using that extra flexibility.

James Harden, Klay Thompson, and Jonas Valanciunas are a few of the “impact” players who might fit that criteria, sources tell McMenamin. While it might be difficult to convince Harden or Thompson to settle for the mid-level (worth approximately $12.9MM), a sign-and-trade could also be a possibility to land that sort of player. Acquiring a player via sign-and-trade would hard-cap the Lakers at the first tax apron for 2024/25, but so would using more than the taxpayer portion ($5.2MM) of the mid-level exception.

[RELATED: Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks among Klay Thompson’s suitors]

If the Lakers aren’t able to add a player of that caliber, the plan would be for James to seek a max deal to return to the Lakers, Paul tells McMenamin. If LeBron does accept a pay cut, the most likely scenario would see him accept a two-year deal with a 2025/26 player option so that he’d have the ability to negotiate a raise a year from now, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Elsewhere on the Lakers front, after tendering a qualifying offer to Max Christie to make him a restricted free agent, the team would like to retain the 21-year-old guard, envisioning him as a rotation player next season, sources tell Buha. However, if L.A. hard-caps itself by adding an impact player via sign-and-trade or the MLE, fitting a new deal for Christie under the first apron could be a challenge.

Here are a few more rumors from around the NBA ahead of the official start of free agency on Sunday evening:

  • Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN referred to the Sixers this morning on SportsCenter as a “legitimate threat” to sign Paul George away from the Clippers (hat tip to Adam Zagoria of NJ.com), while Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack story that Philadelphia has a “significant measure of renewed hope” in its ability to land the star forward.
  • Although the Magic are one of three teams to secure a meeting with George, the free agents connected most frequently to Orlando by league insiders are Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein and Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, per Stein.
  • There’s a belief that DeMar DeRozan may wait to see what happens with George’s free agency before making a decision, according to Stein, since he’d have a better feel for his options outside the Bulls at that point. Multiple reports this offseason have suggested the Clippers could be a suitor for DeRozan (likely via sign-and-trade) if they lose George.
  • While the Lakers have emerged as a legitimate option for Klay Thompson, the Mavericks have made the veteran sharpshooter their top free agent priority, even ahead of starting small forward Derrick Jones, says Stein. Dallas hasn’t ruled out the possibility of signing both players – that would require a sign-and-trade for Thompson and an MLE deal for Jones – which would be the team’s true “Plan A,” Stein writes, adding that Naji Marshall continues to be mentioned as a likely Mavs target if they lose Jones.
  • The Clippers and Spurs are among the teams expected to have interest in Chris Paul if the veteran point guard ends up being waived by Golden State and becoming a free agent, reports Stein.
View Comments (43)