This offseason promises to be a big one for the Los Angeles Lakers but not for reasons we are used to. The team will likely add another top prospect with the second overall pick in the NBA draft with another pick at 28 that can be used for another young player or to pawn off the team’s big contracts.
Outside of the draft, however, it appears as though the Lakers will have a quiet summer. The front office, both Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson, have been public about wanting to wait until 2018 to be big players in free agency.
On Wednesday, Magic appeared on Marcellus and Kelvin on ESPN LA and reiterated the same sentiment while giving the team’s reasoning behind the decision:
“Yeah because, you know, most of the guys we’re looking at right now are pretty much going to sign back. If you look at the potential free agents, they’re all high-profile guys. The two that play for Golden State, you already know they’re pretty much going to get the max deals.
You have….one that I love in Chris Paul. That’s like my man. And this is crazy. Here I am just not running the Lakers, but in my heart, I still want Chris Paul to play in a Western Conference Finals and then in an NBA Finals. I really want that for him because he deserves that. I think the two high-profile Clippers, along with JJ, will probably sign back, right? Where do you go if you don’t sign them back? It’s not going to be the same for the Clippers not having them.
But we feel that those guys all go back, so this is not going to be one of those years where guys leave because the teams that have a lot of cap space, I don’t think that those guys will leave for those teams. I really don’t.”
This is sound reasoning. The free agent class just isn’t great this year and the best players are almost guaranteed to return to their incumbent teams. Even those that will leave are probably looking at better situations than the current Lakers in terms of having a chance to contend right away.
The smart move for the Lakers is to lay low, develop their players, and get better next year (with no incentive to tank). Then in 2018, when a certain Indiana Pacer by the name of Paul George who is reportedly “hell-bent” on joining the Lakers is a free agent, the Lakers can make their move into exiting this long rebuild.
It’s a good sign that Johnson and Pelinka are staying patient and that ownership is supporting that.