The Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason has officially begun. The team selected four players in the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday, including longtime prospect Lonzo Ball. Before that, they traded away arguably their most talented young prospect in D’Angelo Russell mainly to acquire future cap space.
By taking in Brook Lopez’ expiring contract and trading away Timofey Mozgov’s huge one, the Lakers are looking at nearly 20 million dollars more in cap space next summer. That’s coincidentally the same summer when Paul George, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and DeMarcus Cousins are all expected to hit free agency.
Nevertheless, the move seemed hasty as it opened up space a year in advance and required using a really important asset in order to do it.
But Magic Johnson is here to tell fans that they should not be afraid because the Lakers totally have a plan. Here’s what the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations had to say after Ball’s introductory press conference:
Magic just said LAL wouldn't have made that BKN trade & gotten that cap room, if they didn't expect to be "major players" in free agency '18
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) June 23, 2017
We’ve known all along that the Lakers are going to try to be players in free agency next year. Even amidst speculation that George could be traded to LA this summer, the most likely case has always been acquiring him as a free agent. As soon as George arrives (if he does, of course), the Lakers’ focus will shift to building a stronger team around him.
Whether putting all their eggs in that basket right now is a smart idea or not remains to be seen. But it’s an awfully big risk to take that could backfire if the plan doesn’t go as expected.