The Lakers’ hopes of signing Giannis Antetokounmpo next winter could be crushed due to LeBron James’ extension.
The huge announcement of LeBron James signing an extension to stay in Los Angeles with the Lakers has far-reaching implications into the future. It has been well-documented that the Lakers have been looking forward to the summer of 2021 where arguably the best player in the sport, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is available.
The front office went as far as signing every player last summer to two-year deals, just to line it up perfectly with Giannis’s free agency timeline.
LeBron James was already under contract for this season and had a player option for next season, but with the extension, he is currently under contract for three more seasons including this one.
The dollar figure on James’ supermax two-year deal is a very large one that exceeds $40 million per season, but his contract was already practically accounted for. The one the Lakers need to properly account for is the impending max deal that is doled out to Anthony Davis this off-season.
Anthony Davis still has yet to sign any sort of deal with the Lakers because of a strategic ploy by the front office. There has been some speculation that the Lakers want to sign Anthony Davis to a 1+1 deal, a deal that entails this next year as guaranteed and a player option for next season that the Lakers would then want AD to decline and subsequently re-up with the team.
All of this is to utilize AD’s Bird Rights to their advantage to maneuver the necessary money to sign Giannis. It is still very possible, but it is not probable at this juncture.
The Lakers do not need Giannis Antetokounmpo in purple and gold to win a title as they showed just last season, but adding him to a core that already consists of two consensus top-five players in the league is a dream worth pursuing.
So, to answer the question posed in the title, I say yes.
The caveat, though, is that it is certainly not going to be an easy road. The Lakers would have to do a lot of convincing of Anthony Davis to help build their super-team and possibly the greatest basketball team of all time. They would also undoubtedly have to find takers for the contracts of Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Basically, the only way this works is if the Lakers start anew with their roster outside of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo who will make a collective $115 million or so when it’s all said and done.
The cap next season should be around that mark with the hard cap — something the Lakers are already brushing up against it this season and have shown a willingness to do — exceeding that by an additional $30 million. The Lakers can pull this off. Not only can they pull it off, they should try their absolute best to pull it off.
The Lakers could be on the verge of forming the greatest team ever assembled — a true dynasty. Even though LeBron James is at the end of his career, a Lakers’ future with both Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokoumpo is one that could provide longevity for the team’s championship window.
Working out the cap numbers correctly over the next few seasons could provide the purple and gold with more titles than they could have ever dreamed of.