Lakers No Longer Planning Free-Agent Pursuit of LeBron James This Summer

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The Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James have been linked together in rumors for as long as one can remember.

The four-time MVP will be able to sign with the team of his choosing this summer, and the Lakers were all in on making trades that would free up enough cap space to land him.

With their hopes of landing two star free agents this summer dwindling, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking further into the future and "recalibrating their focus" on the 2019 free-agent class, according to an ESPN report. While either player or both could still be traded before Thursday's deadline, the team isn't as pressured to move them to clear salary in the short term.

The Lakers are in the middle of their best stretch since 2013, winning 10 of their past 14 games despite playing without injured point guard Lonzo Ball for the last 10.

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If the Lakers are planning to make a run at two superstars this summer, they will have to unload some contracts before the trade deadline this week. That would require moving Clarkson, who is owed $12.5 million next season and $13.4 million the following year. This can only mean exciting things for the City of Los Angeles. He's only played in one game, so paying him $36.8 million over the next two years to be buried on the bench has to hurt. Paul George says he's leaning toward remaining with the Thunder and DeMarcus Cousins just suffered a serious leg injury. He's reportedly not going anywhere unless that team has another superstar riding shotgun, which the Lakers don't have, yet.

L.A. isn't completely giving up on 2018 free agency, according to ESPN's report, but now is shifting its attention to a 2019 class that could include All-Star talent such as Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson. They are now 10-4 in their last 14 games, and focusing on the long term would give the young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma additional time to grow.

While the Western Conference franchise is now sporting a young group of core players, it is no secret that Los Angeles was initially primed to add some veteran star power come the summer of 2018.

The weather is better (although it does not affect basketball), the night life is better and heck, the Lakers are arguably the most prestigious franchise in the NBA.

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