When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, the immediate question became: "Which superstar(s) will join him?"
In case you forgot, teams who've added James in the past ensured that there were two other superstars to complement him. When he signed with the Miami Heat in 2010, the organization had already secured Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - two future Hall of Famers.
That produced two NBA championships and a total of four Finals appearances.
When James announced his decision to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was already there. Up next, the Cavaliers gave up 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and landed forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. That led to four straight NBA Finals appearances and the 2016 championship.
But James has trusted the process under Laker legend and team president Magic Johnson, who will surely land one or two superstars to complement LeBron in the near future. Between now and 2020 free agency, a handful of superstars are bound to sign with new teams and/or get traded.
The Lakers have plenty of quality players to choose from when it comes to building the next 'Big Three' for LeBron. It's anybody's guess what the 2018-19 or 2019-20 Lakers will look like, but it's never too early to play the matching game.
Here are 10 NBA players that Magic Johnson should push for to team up with James, and 10 players to stay away from as he tries to build a new championship contender.
20 Help: Terry Rozier
Terry Rozier failed to reach an extension with the Boston Celtics before the season started, so the expectation is that he'll land a lucrative RFA contract - which GM Danny Ainge won't be able to match.
Rozier showed during the 2018 playoffs that he's a capable starting point guard. He's also young (24), and is too talented to be Kyrie Irving's understudy over the long run. And when he hits the market, the Lakers should hop on that.
Whomever signs Rozier to an RFA offer sheet will probably have to overpay. But the Lakers have more than enough cap space to pay him around $20 million a season on a multi-year deal. It would give LeBron a young and talented point guard to work with, and it would make Lonzo Ball expendable in a potential trade.
19 Avoid: Goran Dragic
With Dwyane Wade set to retire after this season, the Miami Heat will be transitioning towards a retooling stage. They struck out on winning the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, but at least the Heat can build around borderline star Josh Richardson and the likes of Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters.
That could mean moving out expensive point guard Goran Dragic, as the Heat would love to cut his salary and free up cap space for the offseason. But if Dragic hits the trade block, the Lakers should look at other options.
Dragic turns 33 in May and has a player option of approx. $19.217 million for 2019-20. It doeesn't make sense to trade for an ageing and expensive veteran - especially if he's only going to be here for one year. The Lakers need to find a point guard that will be here for the long run.
18 Help: Markelle Fultz
The No. 1 overall selection from 2017 continues to be hampered by awful shooting woes. And with the Philadelphia 76ers trading for All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, it's a sign that the front office and coaching staff are running out of patience with Markelle Fultz.
At this point, there's little denying that Fultz would benefit from the change of scenery. Just how can he flourish in an offense that's built around Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid? Philadelphia won't admit it, but it's clear they're preparing to move on from Fultz.
The Lakers should be calling Philly to see what the asking price is for Fultz. He wasn't the first overall pick for no reason. The guy displays a tremendous skill set and could shine in the right offense. If Fultz had James helping him out, he would be in a better position to succeed.
17 Avoid: Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol has the chance to opt out of his contract after this season, but considering he'll be 34 years of age in January and has experienced a massive decline, it's unlikely that the defensive stalwart will bother to test free agency.
Perhaps Gasol opts in for the 2019-20 season, then the Grizzlies look to trade him as they look to shed salary and get younger? If that's the case, the Lakers shouldn't even think about adding Gasol.
He can be productive on any given night, sure. But Gasol isn't that world class defender any more, and he's extremely limited offensively now. He'd also take away much-needed cap space for the Lakers to sign other stars. It's just not a fit in LA.
16 Help: LaMelo Ball
Hey, if the Lakers decide to package Lonzo Ball in a blockbuster trade, they could always decide to wait around and try to snatch his younger brother, LaMelo. The latter figures to be available in the 2020 NBA Draft - and if Magic Johnson starts planning two years early - he might be able to find a way to get Ball.
The Lakers surely won't be competing for a lottery pick in 2020, so they're going to have to be patient in the process of getting LaMelo. As the 2019-20 season ends, Johnson needs to start getting in contact with the bottom-five teams - and work out a deal to acquire one of those picks.
LaMelo Ball has the talents to be a true superstar - which his older brother hasn't reached yet. They could have LeBron mentor and help Ball eventually take over as the franchise star before he retires. It's a smart move for Johnson to think about.
15 Avoid: Kevin Love
James and Love spent four years together with the Cleveland Cavaliers - reaching four straight NBA Finals and winning it all in 2016. But really, it's a no-brainer for the Lakers to stay away from a LeBron-Love reunion.
The Cavaliers made a questionable decision to hand the 30-year-old Love a massive four-year contract extension worth $120 million. They were better off trading him for young assets. Instead, the Cavs are giving a lot of money to a player who's been a liability in the postseason - and unable to stay healthy through the course of a season.
Even if the Cavaliers are willing to simply give away Love and his mega deal, the Lakers shouldn't be interested. It'll provide them with a major salary cap problem, and Love's aforementioned injury history is reason for concern.
14 Help: Wesley Matthews
The rebuilding Dallas Mavericks will likely let Wesley Matthews go in free agency, given that he'll be 33 years of age next season. Matthews could be one of the top bargains on the free agent market, and the Lakers should be keeping an eye on him.
Matthews is good for about 15 points per game, and he's among the top three-point shooters in the game right now. He's not quite a superstar, but Matthews could work as the No. 3 player in Laker Land, should the front office add another All-Star to join up with LeBron.
Los Angeles might be able to sign Matthews to a short-term deal worth around $15 million a season. It gives them a quality all-around shooter and another playmaker at a good price.
13 Avoid: Trevor Ariza
The Phoenix Suns gave Trevor Ariza a one-year deal worth $15 million this offseason, but the 33-year-old isn't doing a whole lot to set himself up for an even bigger deal next year. The Suns won't be bringing back Ariza, and when he hits free agency, the Lakers shouldn't even consider him.
Ariza will be 34 years of age next offseason, and the decline in his production cannot be ignored. His field goal and three-point shooting percentages are way down Ariza's career averages, and he's not exactly the type of player that will take Los Angeles from playoff hopeful to championship contender.
12 Help: Kemba Walker
Though All-Star point guard Kemba Walker has voiced his desire to remain with the Charlotte Hornets, things could certainly change overtime. Do you really think he could pass up on the opportunity to join the big market, up-and-coming Lakers - if LeBron and Magic started a pitch to him?
Walker is a free agent after this season, and the Lakers need to gear up for a push if he enters the market. Walker is a flashy, do-it-all playmaker and one of the game's elite three-point shooters. Walker would surely see his game reach an even higher level if he had James to work with.
A sign-and-trade deal with Charlotte could also be an option. Michael Jordan won't want to lose his star player for nothing - and the Lakers would surely have no problem surrendering key assets to bring Walker aboard.
11 Avoid: DeAndre Jordan
The Dallas Mavericks signed the rebounding guru to a one-year deal this offseason, but DeAndre Jordan isn't doing a whole lot to set himself up nicely for a big contract this offseason.
The 30-year-old center is showing signs of decline, both offensively and defensively. Jordan was never much of a big-time scorer, but someone will overpay him because of the rebounding and defensive skills.
With all due respect to Jordan, he's not the type of player that will turn LeBron's Lakers into a true championship contender. Jordan is also a declining asset, so this isn't a guy they should be looking at when free agency opens up. There are more offensively-skilled guys to look at.
10 Help: Klay Thompson
The Golden State Warriors are going to lose at least one of their franchise stars; the only questions are which ones, and how many.
All-Star Klay Thompson is a free agency after this season, and Kevin Durant is expected to test the market as well. Draymond Green is a free agent after next year, and he could be in line for a very expensive super max contract.
If the Warriors decide to sign both Durant and Green long-term, Thompson becomes the odd man out. That's where the Lakers can make their move and sign away one of the game's top three-point shooters from their California rivals.
Thompson has said that he wants to finish his career as a Warrior, but what if the front office prefers to keep Durant and green over him? The Lakers probably wouldn't need long to talk to Thompson and get him to sign up alongside LeBron.
9 Avoid: Draymond Green
After a heated confrontation with teammate Kevin Durant following a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, some are already doubting Green's future in Golden State. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has one year left on his contract, and the Warriors will have lose one of either he, Klay Thompson or KD.
If Green enters the free agent market, however, the Lakers would be wise to stay away. He may be the league's top defender, but guys with Green's physical playing style tend to slow down quickly (see Ben Wallace).
If the Lakers gave Green a huge contract, there's a high chance they would regret it after just one or two years. Green's style of offense also wouldn't exactly mesh well with James, so the Lakers should stay away at all costs.
8 Help: John Wall
The Washington Wizards are off to a miserable start, and now the trade speculation regarding All-Star point guard John Wall is ramping up. If Washington finishes at the bottom of the standings in 2019, might they decide to start a rebuild by moving out their flashy superstar?
It does make sense. Wall has been slowed by knee injuries, turns 29 next year and carries one expensive contract that the Wizards might want to get off their hands soon. If that's where the front office wants to go, then the Lakers need to step up.
Given his age and the money/term owed on his deal, the Lakers might get Wall at a reasonable price in such a trade. Perhaps asking a third team to come to help absorb salary might help get a deal done.
Wall might only have so many prime years left, but James turns 34 in December and won't be playing at an MVP level much longer. The Lakers need to be going all-in while James is in his prime, and that's why it makes sense to get Wall.
7 Avoid: Kawhi Leonard
It's been reported multiple times by now that the Los Angeles Clippers top Kawhi Leonard's wish list. He apparently doesn't have any interest in teaming up with LeBron James - preferring to be the lead guy instead of a sidekick to The King.
That means the Lakers would be wise to not bother wasting anybody's time by pursuing Leonard. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year will likely decide between the Clippers and Toronto Raptors - who are building up a great case for him to stay long-term.
There are also question's about Leonard's health, given that he missed 73 games last year with a quad injury and is now battling issues on his foot. For the Lakers, it may be best to explore elsewhere and let Leonard choose between the Clippers and Raptors.
6 Help: Damian Lillard
Though Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has voiced his happiness in staying with the team, it hasn't stopped rumors from circulating that the Lakers will push hard for his services.
Lillard has two years left on his contract after this season, so the Lakers can't afford to wait around for him to hit free agency. Rather, they need to present a big-time trade offer in order to land the All-Star point guard.
The Lakers could offer up a handful of their young roster players - Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and/or Brandon Ingram - plus draft picks for Lillard. If Portland experiences another early playoff exit, they may be willing to pull off the blockbuster move. And just like that, James would have a new All-Star point guard to help him carry the offense. It's a win-win for both squads.
5 Avoid: DeMarcus Cousins
The Golden State Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins to a very cheap one-year deal worth $5.3 million in the offseason, and the four-time All-Star center later revealed that he was struggling to generate interest on the open market.
Head coach Steve Kerr has already said that the Warriors won't be able to keep Cousins beyond this season, so expect the 28-year-old to hit free agency once again in the offseason.
The Lakers need to stay away from Cousins, because it's been widely mentioned that he's not so easy to deal with in the locker room. That would probably explain why he had to settle on a below-market value contract with Golden State.
If Cousins really is that bad in the locker room, then the Lakers can't give LeBron a teammate whose attitude will become an unnecessary distraction. Stay away, Mr. Johnson.
4 Help: Anthony Davis
If the New Orleans Pelicans aren't confident in their ability to re-sign franchise superstar Anthony Davis, then it makes all the sense in the world to trade him. They could receive a major package for his services - which is far better than losing him for nothing in 2020 free agency.
Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register recently reported that "insiders think Davis will force a trade," and that the Pelicans star is "toward teaming up with" James in Los Angeles.
The Lakers have more assets to offer New Orleans than most. Perhaps a combination of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and/or draft picks - would get the trade done.
Giving James another top-five player in the NBA would easily put this team in championship contention - right up there with the Warriors. Los Angeles should offer New Orleans whatever they want to get Davis.
3 Avoid: Jimmy Butler
The Philadelphia 76ers acquired Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski added that both sides are keen on getting a long-term deal done.
But if Butler opts to test free agency - for whatever reason - the Lakers need to avoid him and go in a different direction. Even though Butler is one of the game's elite two-way players, he turns 30 years of age next year. Can the Lakers really afford to invest in a contract north of $100 million for his services?
Butler's ugly departure from Minnesota also shows that he's not always going to be the easiest guy to play with. Do you think James wants to have a new superstar that could turn on him and ask for a trade out of Laker Land? If I'm Johnson, I'm staying far away.
2 Help: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant's looming free agency has been one of the early hot storylines of the 2018-19 season. It's logical to believe he may want to look for a new challenge, especially if the Warriors win their third straight NBA Championship.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith suggested that the Lakers and New York Knicks are on Durant's wish list, but the Purple and Gold "have the edge." Thus, it's not too crazy to believe KD will want to team up with James.
Just imagine if the two best players in the world team up together. It'd be like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in the '80s, or Kobe Bryant and LeBron before Durant even arrived.
If the Lakers want another superstar to work alongside LeBron, Durant is the guy. Do not doubt Magic Johnson's ability to win the sweepstakes for another MVP. He got LeBron with ease. Now, Magic has James to help him recruit Durant to Laker Land.
1 Avoid: Kyrie Irving
Irving may have given a verbal commitment to the Boston Celtics, but nothing is ever official until the pens meets the paper. A lot could change between now and July, so Irving is by no means a guarantee to stay in Boston.
If Irving were to enter free agency, don't think for an instant that LeBron or Magic Johnson will give him a call. Irving forced a trade out of Cleveland - simply because he didn't want to be James' sidekick anymore.
The Lakers shouldn't even bother trying to patch thigns up between he and James. That ship has sailed. Kyrie wants to be his own franchise star. There are other guys for James to recruit. Stay as far away as you can, Lakers. You don't need Kyrie.