Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on LeBron James' Leadership, LAL's Offseason Plans

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIJuly 20, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates after scoring and drawing a foul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 112-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Things aren't normal for players inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida. And that goes for Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, too.

With the 2019-20 season set to resume July 30, all 22 teams that are participating in the season restart are now at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World. They've undergone COVID-19 intake testing, and now, they're participating in training camps to get ready for games.

For James, that meant some lifestyle changes, which he apparently sees as a way to bond the Lakers. During a recent NBA on TNT broadcast, sideline reporter Chris Haynes shared that James did not bring his personal chef, personal masseuse or his extended security team to the NBA bubble.

Haynes added that James made those decisions "to make sure he's going through all the rigors of his teammates on this campus, to make sure he's blending in and going through everything they're experiencing."

"LeBron James is clearly trying to send a message that, 'We're all in this together,'" Haynes said on the broadcast. "That is one of his forms of trying to show he's out there with them doing the same thing they're doing, and he's eating the same exact food."

Meanwhile, on the practice court, the Lakers are gearing up as they prepare to try to make a playoff run. They're currently the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and with a 5½-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers (and only eight seeding games before the playoffs), it's unlikely they fall from that spot.

The Lakers and Clippers will face off July 30, the day the season officially resumes.


Latest buzz on upcoming offseason

Later this year, the Lakers will turn the page on the 2019-20 season, whether they're successful in winning the NBA title or not. And with a lot of uncertainty regarding their future rosters, it could be an important offseason for Los Angeles.

The Lakers have five players on their roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents, as well as five others who hold player options for 2020-21—Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. And with the NBA salary cap unlikely to go up, Los Angeles will have some decisions to make when constructing its roster for next season.

Recently, The Athletic's Bill Oram broke down the Lakers' situation, noting that even if they lose players such as Caldwell-Pope and McGee to "longer-term, higher-money deals" with other teams, they shouldn't be in too bad of shape financially.

"The Lakers will have the flexibility to go offer a short-term deal to someone else," Oram wrote. "DeMarcus Cousins remains an option."

Cousins signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles last summer, but he tore his left ACL during a workout in August and never played a game for the team. The 29-year-old center has played only 78 games since the start of the 2017-18 season, but he could provide a low-risk, high-reward option for the Lakers if they can sign him to an affordable deal for next season.

While Los Angeles will need to sign players for 2020-21, it may also have an eye toward the following offseason, per Oram.

"The primary focus will likely be keeping the books as clean as possible for the summer of 2021, when the Lakers will have the option to go chase that third star," Oram wrote.

The 2021 free-agent class has the potential to be stacked, as it may include reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. There will likely be numerous teams that make sure to save cap space for that offseason, with the Lakers potentially among them.


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