The Lakers missed the playoffs in LeBron James's first season with the franchise.
Lakers forward LeBron James has reportedly met with Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard and 76ers swingman Jimmy Butler regarding their upcoming free agency, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
During Thursday's episode of Pardon the Interruption, Windhorst mentioned that James has already started his recruiting process of star players ahead of the offseason.
"From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process," Windhorst said. "I’ve heard he’s had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler. There’s no tampering enforcement by players. And while Magic Johnson, the guy who got in trouble for tampering before, is no longer there, LeBron is ‘tamperer in chief’ of the Lakers right now. The thing about it is, I don’t know if texts and calls, and maybe a dinner with LeBron, is enough for the Lakers to overcome their hurdles that they’re gonna have."
Leonard, who was traded to Toronto ahead of this season, has helped the Raptors advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Butler, who was traded to Philadelphia during the season, helped the Sixers reach the Eastern Conference semis. Both players were named All-Stars this year.
However, per Windhorst, the Lakers' pursuit of star power this offseason could include a run at the Celtics' Kyrie Irving, who previously played with James on the Cavaliers.
Irving has "repaired and re-opened his relationship with LeBron" since joining Boston, and according to Windhorst the Lakers "may have a chance to get a meeting" with the All-Star point guard.
Still, Windhorst notes that Irving has a strong relationship with Warriors forward Kevin Durant, whose free-agency decision may influence where Irving goes.