The NBA’s Young Stars Want To Escape Their Small Markets; They Just Don’t Know It Yet

In the summer of 2014, the Lakers will be throwing money around like Mayweather in the club, trying to get their free agency mojo back. The two most prominent free agent targets are LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. However, there's a second-tier of superstars riding private jets on their way up the NBA ladder. No place screams superstardom like Los Angeles, and no organization has a history of purging All-Stars from small market franchises like the Lakers.

Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George will each be restricted free agents in 2014, but recently each has reiterated their desires to remain with the squads that drafted them instead of looking for more spacious, denser greener pastures. None have directly addressed L.A., but it's the elephant in the room. The Lakers are going to be like Stella next summer trying to get their groove back in the aftermath of Dwight Howard's departure.

When recently asked whether he wanted to remain a King, Cousins changed his tune and stated his desire to remain in Northern California. George also becomes a restricted free agent next summer, but he's in a different situation as the perimeter star on a championship contender with even more upside.

Irving's commitment to the Cavs is understandable. The Cavaliers are considered an odds-on favorite to sign James next summer, and Andrew Bynum is the second-best big man in the league when healthy.

George is from Palmdale, California in Los Angeles County, but based on recent comments made by the Pacers forward, he also appears content in the Indiana market. That all sounds good and well, but much can change in a year.

The lure of coming home could prove too strong for George to ignore. If Bynum's knee turned out to be a dud and James re-ups with Miami, Irving could get wandering eyes. Cousins could change his mind tomorrow, so we won't even mention him here.

I'm a LOST aficionado. One of the show's classic scenes takes place in season 2 when Jack Shephard, the skeptic, is being prodded by John Locke the believer. After Shephard discloses to Locke that he doesn't believe in destiny, Locke utters some chilling words to Shephard (which applies to these young cats and their upcoming free agency) when he whispers, "Yes, you do, you just don't know it yet."

A year ago, Howard spurned the Houston Rockets attempts to trade for him, but on July 5, he couldn't have been happier to sign with Houston. They may seem sure about their short-term futures now, but even if the Lakers aren't their No.1 option, next summer isn't set in stone.


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