Doug Gottlieb: Lakers will sign a big name free agent in the next two years

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Jim Jackson and Kristine Leahy join Doug Gottlieb and Jason Whitlock to discuss whether the Lakers can attract a big name free agent in the next two years.

- I'm not as confident because one, Paul George seems to be in love with Russell Westbrook. And so now, the big free agent out there, the only one, is LeBron James, and I'm not sure if LeBron James is going to look at the Lakers' situation as ideal for him. And so they're going to have max money, but who they going to spend it on?

- Good question. DeMarcus Cousins, maybe? If-- depending on what happens with the injury. Come on.

WOMAN: They can't even play him for a year.

- They've paid people coming off injuries before. It's not the first time that happens, but also you got to look forward to 2019, the of free agent class then as well. So I think it's a long-term play. They got rid of some money, got rid of Clarkson. They opened up opportunities. Now if they get big-time free agent, again, it's not a lot in this class. You're talking about next year that they can go after. But, I think what they want to do is show that they have the room and flexibility, Dougie, to be able to tempt a Paul George. I don't know if Paul is going to move and say, depending on what happens in OKC, if they can make it to a Western Conference final, if they can get past Golden State. It'll be a tougher move for a guy like Paul George, I would think, to have to leave there to kind of start all over with LA.

- Well there's a couple of different parts to it. I think he's back-pedaling a little bit from a report earlier this week about them focusing on 2019, and really, what that's about is, you know, Magic couldn't keep his mouth shut, and they haven't been able to control what comes out and what doesn't come out. And so not only they're getting fined, but they also diminish the trade value of Clarkson, Nance, and Julius Randle, who they were unable to move today, right? The whole league knows you're trying to keep clear cap space. Now nobody's going to help you. They're going to try and get a better deal.

So now that he was able to move Clarkson, now he's feeling better about having that cap space. And of course, he's going to appear confident, even if he isn't confident. I don't buy the Paul George is super happy thing. Not because I don't think he's super happy, but it doesn't matter if he's happy in February. If he's happy in June. Kevin Durant walked off the floor after losing, and said, "I'm coming back." Of course they expect to come back. He told Kevin Love-- Russell Westbrook he planned on coming back. And then, he changed his mind. At the end of the day, do you want to come to LA? Do you want to play for the Lakers? You're from LA, and you come back home. And if not, they still have the chance of Kawhi, LA guy, coming back home. And Klay Thompson, whose dad's a broadcaster for the Lakers, coming back home.

They're putting themselves in position for, "Hey, if somebody wants to come this year, we'll make the right call. If not, one-year deals, and we'll do it again next year." Somebody will take that money and play for the purple and gold.

- The way that Paul George, though, talks about Russell Westbrook makes me really think he's staying there. It's so different from the way Kevin Durant was talking. He's saying that they really mesh together on and off the court, and he plans on staying. That kind of gives me every indication there. And I liked the Lakers plan, the original plan, to wait until 2019. Because as you mentioned, they have Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, who all make more sense, I think coming there. Jimmy Butler, I know has talked to Kobe Bryant for years, and really would like to play for the Lakers. Klay Thompson has connections there, too. And then even if, now, let's say they get LeBron. If LeBron comes to the Lakers, he's saying, "I want to live in LA. I don't care about winning anymore," Because it's not going to work. Who are you going to get? Chris Paul's a free agent this summer, so then he'd have to trade Lonzo away.

And is LeBron, and Chris Paul, is that going to win you a championship? Is that can beat the Warriors? No. Even if you get Paul George, I don't think that's going to get you a championship with those two. Wait 'til 2019.

- You sound like today might have been a mistake for the Lakers.

- Not necessarily a mistake. I think that they're just clearing space to see what they can do. You have to at least try, maybe, to get LeBron. And even if LeBron does come, that's good for the Lakers. I just don't see it happening, because it's not going to be the best place to give LeBron a chance to win. And if he comes here, I think that's him conceding, "I'm not going to win."

- Look, at the Lakers today, this-- I mean, I don't think this has any real effect on them. It really doesn't, because they were trying to get rid of everybody from the previous regime.

WOMAN: Right.

- Everybody. The only guys can be from the previous dream is Luke, and Luke is close with Jeanie, and that's why he's still good for now, and they're playing well right now. But everybody else that they're going to keep is from this regime. Everybody-- all the rest, the reason they've had such struggles early in the season was because guys like Jordan Clarkson were worried about putting up numbers, because what-- where are they going be playing next year? And now that settles that. So I think that he feels confident, because however mixed up it is how they got to the plan, the fine earlier this week, the embarrassment of, maybe having to look through 2019, they will have the cap space. They are getting some development out of their younger players, and it looks like they got the steal of the draft in Kuzma, and we'll see what happens with LeBron. We'll see what happens with Paul George.

Like again, I love Russell Westbrook and how they're playing together when they beat Golden State. But they just lost four in a row. It ain't all roses, it ain't all perfect. And all that matters is how you play, and how tight you are in the playoffs, how that feeling is after your last game with Paul George. That will determine if he stays.

- Absolutely, but also think about this. Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson. Do you really think that they're going to let LeBron get away with the kind of stuff that he pulls in Cleveland, and wanting that much control? No way.

- But see, that's a great point.

- And LeBron's not going to want to go there and have to relinquish all that control.

- Well that's part of the issue what happened in Miami, in regards to Pat Riley, Mickey Arison, wasn't going to let LeBron, and everything else, run the organization. That was something. At Cleveland, he's able to do that. If you ever go-- go to a Cleveland game. Please, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about in regards to how his crew, and crew being in the right sense of the word, his management, they run that. With other organizations, San Antonio, the Lakers--

MAN: People say San Antonio

- You're not going to do it.

WOMAN: No.

- It's not. It's a protocol in which has to happen.

- I think he's going to Houston. I really do.

- Sometimes, you've got to push your children out of the nest, though. LeBron's the last part of his career. He may have to put some distance between himself and between Rich Paul, Maverick Carter, and those guys. They can stand on their own two feet.