Regardless, transactions don't stop in mid-July. A Lakers team with LeBron, enticing young players and cap flexibility would instantly become one of the league's most appealing trade and free-agency destinations over the next 12 months.
A second star could come in August or anytime before next season's trade deadline. A third star could come next summer. Sources have denied reports that LeBron texted Kevin Durant about possibly joining him in L.A., but if Durant signs a one-year deal this summer (or a one-plus-one with player option in Year 2), you can bet your life savings that every desirable team will be circling him all season. Durant's motives remain a mystery to everyone in the league.
The game of opt-in chicken -- Did the Lakers believe LeBron would opt in? Did LeBron want them to believe it? -- ended early. Now we wait for other shoes to drop.
Meanwhile, the Celtics and Sixers have kicked the tires on Leonard, and both have the goods to www.lolga.com outbid even the best L.A. offers -- unless the Lakers get crazy and include three first-round picks and two of their best young players. (They likely wouldn't send both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to San Antonio, Rocket League Credits though there are persistent questions around the league about whether LeBron would want to play with the Lakers amid the Ball family circus. A logical endpoint and middle ground for negotiations ahead of Friday's deadline might be something like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and two unprotected first-round picks.)