Pelton: I would be cautious. Yes, the example of Paul George shows that players can be swayed by good experiences with new teams. But George and Leonard are different people in different situations, and the opposite is also true: The Lakers could deal for Leonard and end up losing him anyway, as happened with Dwight Howard. And Leonard isn’t their only option in 2019 free agency, so better for the Lakers to hold on to their young prospects — necessary pieces to complement LeBron and another star.
Snellings: Not at this moment, but they aren’t nearly as far away as one might think. They have four very young but very talented players on roster in Ball, Ingram, Julius Randle and Kuzma. They have the potential to re-sign a (in theory) healthy Isaiah Thomas for what would be an extremely interesting reunion with James, and that would give them more high-level firepower. They could be one superstar trade (Leonard?) or signing (DeMarcus Cousins?) away from making things very interesting.
MacMullan: The Lakers at this exact moment are still pretenders when you whip out that Golden State measuring stick and size up their roster. But that could change in a hurry if a certain two-way star with a cranky quadriceps somehow extricates himself from one of the most revered teams in the league. No Kawhi, no title.
Entertaining extension talks with Love makes sense if the plan is to retool rather than fully rebuild.
The fact that Klay Thompson (free agent in 2019) and Draymond Green (2020) will bypass extension talks this summer does not mean that the pair is eventually leaving in free agency.
Thompson is eligible for a four-year, $102 million extension, roughly $86 million less than what he can sign for in 12 months. While we don’t know if the guard will give Golden State a hometown discount then, he’s not sacrificing that kind of long-term money now.
Because Green is an extra year away from free agency, the forward can add only three years and $71 million to the $36 million left on his contract. As with Thompson, an extension for Green is a non-starter.