Report: LeBron 'had contact' with Leonard, Butler

Mark Blinch / National Basketball Association / Getty

LeBron James may not be waiting until July to begin luring stars to the Los Angeles Lakers.

James has already begun the recruiting process and "had contact" with Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard and Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday on "Pardon the Interruption."

Windhorst notes there is "no tampering enforcement by players," affording James more leeway in conversations with stars under contract.

The Lakers will have enough cap space this summer to sign one free agent to a max contract. Windhorst, notes, however, that the prospect of playing alongside James may not be enough to entice players to join via free agency; the franchise may have to explore the trade market in order to add a star - much like it reportedly attempted to do with New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis earlier this year.

Leonard and Butler are both expected to opt out of their 2019-20 player options and become free agents this summer.

Toronto and Philadelphia can exceed the salary cap in order to re-sign Leonard and Butler, respectively, due to owning their bird rights. Additionally, the two clubs can offer five-year deals worth just north of $190 million, while other teams are bound to four-year contracts worth approximately $140 million.

Report: LeBron 'had contact' with Leonard, Butler
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