The Wizards just changed the course of LeBron James free agency status

The Washington Wizards stealing Jonas Valanciunas from the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency changes the outlook of LeBron James in free agency.
Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James, Jonas Valanciunas, NBA Free Agency
Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James, Jonas Valanciunas, NBA Free Agency / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

The Washington Wizards made a splash on the first night of NBA free agency. They signed veteran big man Jonas Valanciunas to a three-year, $30 million contract.

Valanciunas will be able to step into a Wizards team and help them develop their new young core. He’ll help Frenchman Alex Sarr, in particular, providing a big body to the rotation to help Sarr’s defense.

However, the Wizards weren’t the only player chasing Valanciunas in free agency. The Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly also interested in signing the center.

But that wasn’t the only tidbit that came out regarding the Lakers and Valanciunas. In fact, the Wizards taking Valanciunas away from them could impact LeBron James and his free agency decision-making process.

Wizards signing Jonas Valanciunas will change course of LeBron James free agency

According to ESPN and reporter Dave McMenamin, James is willing to take a pay cut if the Lakers are able to entice an impactful free agent to Los Angeles. The three players listed were Valanciunas, Klay Thompson, and James Harden.

All of those players are now off the market.

Brian Windhorst of The Hoop Collective podcast also chimed in, noting that there could be more than three players, and Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan may also be on that list.

However, let’s say the list ends at the initial three players. If that’s the case, then the Wizards will have played a huge part in what James’ free-agency looks like.

With Valanciunas off the market, Klay Thompson leaving the Golden State Warriors for the Dallas Mavericks, and James Harden re-signing with the LA Clippers, it seems unlikely that James will take a pay cut now.

Valanciunas is a big-bodied center who would have given the Lakers quality minutes next to Anthony Davis and while the superstar was off the floor. He would have been a huge help, especially on the offensive end.

Unfortunately for them, the Wizards had the same idea, and now, he’ll provide Washington with a valuable mentor for their young core.

As a result of the Wizards’ ability to snag Valanciunas and steal him away from the Lakers, James will likely end up signing a max contract.

The Mavericks and Clippers also played a part by signing Thompson and Harden, respectively, but the Wizards chipped in as well.