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Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Lonzo Ball and NBA Draft, LeBron James and 2018 FA

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 19, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are everywhere you look.

NBA draft coverage? There's talk of Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson.

The NBA Finals? There are whispers of LeBron James taking his talents away from Cleveland (again) and heading west, potentially to Los Angeles, if the Cavaliers get swept.

More on both of those rumors below.

Oh, and Showtime has also hit Game of Zones:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

🚨Game of Zones FINALE🚨 Here comes LaVar… RT for MORE episodes next season ↔ Fav for LONGER episodes next season (@att) https://t.co/seH5UhGJp6

Now let's get to those rumors.

Lonzo Ball

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Lonzo Ball talks to the media after his work out for the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Sports Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photogr
Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

For months, Lonzo Ball seemed destined to be a Laker.

To start, he's a homegrown kid who grew up a fan while dominating defenders for Chino Hills High School and the UCLA Bruins. His father, LaVar, has spoken about his son in purple and gold as if it were a sure thing since the team landed the No. 2 pick.

The Lakers need a star, and Ball is the first draftee to enter the pros with his own signature shoe and merchandise brand. It's called Big Ball Brand; perhaps you've heard of it.

In recent weeks, despite the apparent mutual interest, Lonzo-to-L.A. has lost some steam.

On May 31, Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler reported that "unless Lonzo absolutely blows the doors off, he may not be the Lakers' guy." Kyler added that the buzz about Magic Johnson and Co. looking elsewhere has "become so real that Ball's camp, which started the process saying he'd only meet with the Lakers, have expressed a willingness to meet with the Philadelphia 76ers and possibly the Sacramento Kings depending on how things go with the Lakers."

EL SEGUNDO, CA - JUNE 07:  NBA Prospect Lonzo Ball speaks with the media after a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Sports Center on June 7, 2017 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadi
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

ESPN.com's Chad Ford sang a similar tune on Wednesday.

Ford reported that a "trade is still very much an option for the Lakers" because the team would "prefer to start winning again sooner than later."

Here's more:

"Ball was a clear favorite of the prior administration run by Mitch Kupchak and still has his fans within the organization. But the Lakers also took note on how Fox outplayed Ball in their head-to-head matchup in March. And Jackson has always been another favorite in the organization. ... I still think they lean toward Ball, but I'd put the odds somewhere like this: Ball 40 percent, Jackson 35 percent, Fox 25 percent."

Ball seemed optimistic about staying home after working out with the team on Wednesday, telling reporters that team needs a leader at point guard. ESPN's Jovan Buha captured video:

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha

Lonzo says the Lakers need "a leader, a point guard" and he believes he can fill that role: https://t.co/TyVPbLKzGL

The house money remains on Ball to land with the Lakers. But the recent reports about some uncertainty from the new regime is certainly noteworthy. It will become more alarming if these rumblings continue to trickle as we get closer to the June 22 draft.

For now, it's still semi-safe to assume Lonzo is a future Laker.

   

LeBron James

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 07:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court in Game Three of the 2017 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on June 7, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

This one was a shock.

After losing a heart-crushing defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, James was in the news for totally different reason than the NBA Finals.

The Ringer's Kevin O’Connor reported that the King might leave Cleveland for the second time in 2018, when he hits free agency. This time, it could be for Los Angeles.

Here's O'Connor:

"Multiple league sources I've spoken to think the Lakers or Clippers are viable destinations for King James. Jalen Rose  that he expects LeBron to make a move from Cleveland to California, where he already owns a house 30 minutes away from Staples Center. The Lakers make sense if LeBron wants to build a sustainable winner with a core blend of veterans and youthful talent like Paul George — if, as NBA gossip suggests, George truly is 'hell-bent' on going to L.A. — and Brandon Ingram."

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 8: D'Angelo Russell #1 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers high five each other during the game against the Orlando Magic on January 8, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Before we go any further, it's important to note that O'Connor gave equal attention to the King linking up with Chris Paul and the Banana Boat crew on the Clippers. And that'd make sense, to a degree. James has been on the record saying that he wants to play with buddies Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and CP3.

"I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together," James told B/R's Howard Beck last March. "At least one, maybe one or two seasons...I would actually take a pay cut to do that."

Realistically, though, regardless of chemistry, that team isn't touching the Golden State Warriors, should Kevin Durant stick around.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15:  Dwyane Wade #3, LeBron James #23, Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Eastern Conference pose for a photo with Chris Paul #3 of the Western Conference after the 64th NBA All-Star Game presented by KIA as part of the 2015 NBA All-Star We
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Signing with the Lakers wouldn't be that much different than what the King did when he began Chapter 2 with the Cavs—joining a team with a young star and strong role players, and possibly bringing another superstar along with him (Paul George). O'Connor wrote:

"If LeBron takes a longview, it'd be easy to see the Lakers' existing potential. Once you factor in another year of development for their young core, add their draft pick this summer, toss in signing Paul George next summer, then add LeBron, suddenly it's a roster with a blend of impact players on cheap contracts and veterans ready to win now. A mix of vets and youth is how to build sustainable winners in the NBA."

Imagine this lineup:

  • Lonzo Ball
  • D'Angelo Russell
  • Paul George
  • LeBron James
  • Julius Randle

And this bench:

  • Jordan Clarkson
  • Ivica Zubac
  • Larry Nance Jr.
  • Brandon Ingram
  • James Jones (Oh, come on. You know he's coming, too.)

 

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

After a while, it's easy to picture James throwing down jams in front of Magic in a Showtime sequel. But let's remember that leaving the Eastern Conference would be abandoning what's been a smooth path to the Finals for seven years running.

It'd also be shocking to see James leave his home a second time. Jerseys probably wouldn't burn, but tears would roll.

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