LeBron James’ focus appears to be on the Lakers’ offseason plans.
The 34-year-old star has already begun attempting to recruit upcoming free agents to Los Angeles and he has been in “contact” with Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Thursday during an appearance on “Pardon the Interruption.”
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he has had contact with Jimmy Butler. There is no tampering enforcement by players. … 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 the hurdles that they’re going to have.”
The Lakers missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season in 2018-19. But they still have James under contract for at least two more years, will have max cap space this offseason and the fourth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
James told Bleacher Report last month he “will be as active” as he needs to be to help the team improve.
“That's why I came here,” James said at the time. “I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel. We have an opportunity to get better. And there's a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise.
“It (adding another star) is very critical to me and my future. Obviously, the franchise is going to live forever. But for me personally, it's very critical, because I want to compete, and I want to compete now."
The Lakers entered the season with high expectations after James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the team in July. Los Angeles opened with a 20-14 record before James strained his groin Dec. 25. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.
Los Angeles also dealt with injuries to key role players — including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma — throughout 2018-19.
Kyrie Irving has also become “more open” to signing with the Lakers this summer, according to an earlier report from ESPN.