Warriors’ Kevin Durant Still Lakers’ Top Free Agent Priority

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The Lakers purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019 where several NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan are expected to become unrestricted free agents.

Golden State Warriors All Star, Kevin Durant is still a very high priority for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.

“KD is the Lakers’ top free agent priority this summer; followed by Kawhi Leonard,” a league source shared with me via text message this evening.

 

Durant signed a two-year, $61.5 million contract with the Warriors and has the option to opt out ahead of the 2019-20 season, per Spotrac.

If Durant were to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers next offseason, it would leave them with a minimum of two years to play together.

There’s more to the pot. The Lakers are looking to bring in another star via a trade this summer.

“Number one trade target is Anthony Davis, no surprise,” says another league source.

The Lakers are still very much interested in trading for Anthony Davis. However, in order for that to happen, the New Orleans Pelicans would still need to agree to agree to a trade.

That didn’t go so well at the NBA’s trading deadline on February 7th.

There are some who think that the New Orleans Pelicans’ hiring of David Griffin lends some hope that the Pelicans will at least be more sensible when it comes to talking trades with the Los Angeles Lakers.

That said, acquiring Davis still isn’t guaranteed.

Take note: The Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks did in fact inquire about Davis between January and February.

With the NBA Draft coming up, there could be more suitors looking to make a move.

Adding a max free agent and keeping the young core is still an option for the Lakers, also.

Keep in mind: Before the rash of injuries to LeBron James, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers were only two games out of first place and on pace to win 50 or more wins this season.

https://twitter.com/ScoopB/status/1083818668075769857

Some believe that adding any mix of notable free agents like Durant or Leonard in a mix with LeBron James and a more experienced, blossoming young core could create a legitimate championship contender.

Magic Johnson stepping downs as President of Basketball Operations of the Los Angeles Lakers also changes the trajectory on a lot of things heading into this summer’s free agency.

“Magic had KD wrapped up,” one league source shared with me earlier this week.

“That’s why they bought out Luol Deng to essentially clear up the amount needed for KD’s max slot. With Magic gone, not sure what is guaranteed any more.”

Other chains of events earlier this season could lead one to believe that the Durant to LA rumors have some validity.

Aside from Durant and James shooting the episode of Board Room in September, which I reported…

Back in the fall, NBA veteran Jarrett Jack tweeted about Durant & Davis joining the Lakers and it being a done deal.

Many made a spectacle when Durant’s mother told TMZ that she loved Magic Johnson and LeBron James. She did follow that up with stating: “My son has been in the NBA now for 11 years, so he’s wise enough to make the decision that’s best for him. I trust that.”

Earlier in the season, it was reported that the beef between Durant and Warriors teammate, Draymond Green had a lot to do with KD’s pending free agency this summer.

It is believed by some that that is why Durant quickly made the “toxic” comments to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher about the Lakers and LeBron James.

“It was to shoot down all the speculation,” one source shared with me. “It was to get people off their tail and it worked.”

Bucher believes that the New York Knicks are a top contender for Durant if he leaves the Golden State Warriors.

“I would expect that he goes to New York for a variety of reasons.” Bucher told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.

“Scott Perry was right-hand man to Sam Presti on the Oklahoma City Thunder for a long time. He and KD know each other very well. His business manager is from New York and is a huge Knicks fan. The idea that he would love to work for the Knicks and have some role in that, if that could be a consideration, I think all of that has some legitimacy to it. And so, I look at all of that, I look at what the business aspirations are and what New York could afford. And the fact that his business manager, that’s where he’s from and he knows the landscape and that if he goes to, I mean just imagine, he’s been a two-time NBA Finals MVP, he’s won a couple of rings.”

On the front office side of things:

Pat Riley’s name has emerged in the 24-hour news cycle as the Lakers’ new President of Basketball Operations.

I asked someone with knowledge of that talk who stated that Pat Riley seems like a Jeanie Buss choice, with her “penchant for former Lakers.”

From source:

“I actually heard back in January that Pat Riley could make his way back to the Lakers. I didn’t think anything of it, especially back then when Magic [Johnson] was still on board. It didn’t make sense. I’m not saying he’s a serious candidate right now, but now that Magic is out, anything can happen.”

Other canidates mentioned include Golden State Warriors GM, Bob Myers who is an UCLA alum. Conventional wisdom suggests that if he were brought in, he’d have an in to pursue Durant.

The Lakers also do not have a head coach.

By all accounts, Monty Williams is a leading candidate. He is from the DMV-area, as is Durant and he used to coach Anthony Davis when he was the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Ty Lue is believed to be up there because of ties to LeBron James.

Jason Kidd was higher on the list during the NBA season. Magic Johnson was also calling the shots back then, as well.

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