March 10, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is guarded by Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) during the first quarter at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Windhorst: Lakers planning on making a move for LeBron James?


The Los Angeles Lakers recently acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in an offseason that rivals that of the Miami Heat two years ago.

While they would appear to be set with their current core, the Lakers are known for making daring moves that consistently put them in the championship conversation.

So, with this being the case, what would be more daring than LeBron James in the purple and gold?

Team executives, as ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst’s notes, seem to believe that general manager Mith Kupchak and owner Jerry Buss are already planning to court James, who has a Early Termination Option (ETO) prior to the 2014-15 season. Coincidentally, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s contracts expire the same season, alleviating the Lakers of $50 million (not accounting for cap holds, of course). Nash’s contract expires the following season.

Several teams’ executives have told ESPN.com they believe the Lakers are positioning themselves to make a run at LeBron James in 2014, when the Miami Heat star can choose to become a free agent….

“It’s not a mistake that all those deals end the same year Kobe’s does. They have probably been planning for their next phase for a while,” said one general manager. “The Busses and [Lakers GM] Mitch [Kupchak] are always thinking about the next big deal.”

Presumably, the Lakers will re-sign Howard. Even so, if Bryant chooses to retire over taking a pay cut in a reduced role — a route that he says he won’t take — the Lakers have enough financial security to acquire James.

This is assuming that James even decides to waive his ETO and enter the free agent market. The Heat are contenders this year and with a stable organization, they are likely to be contenders for awhile. Leaving an environment in which he is comfortable doesn’t seem like a realistic possibility.

But who could have predicted the Lakers acquiring Howard and Nash? As always, never count the Lakers out.

Tags: Lebron James Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat