The Los Angeles Lakers have put all their eggs in the free agency basket for 2018. They have created cap space and are trying to create more of it, hoping to sign the likes of LeBron James, Paul George, and other top-level stars in free agency next summer.
Free agency is always a touchy subject around the NBA, especially as it pertains to stars. Fans generally do not take it well when their favorite player leaves their favorite team as is their right.
Jeanie Buss made an appearance on the Inside of You podcast with Michael Rosenbaum and spoke about the stigma of free agents leaving. The Lakers owner had a very open-minded response to the topic:
“I’m a person that doesn’t deny a free agent their right to choose at some point in their career where they want to play. Because you have to keep in mind, they get drafted. These kids work their whole life, they get to choose what college they wanted to go to, and now really they’re at the mercy of a bunch of ping pong balls as to what the draft order is gonna be. And now you’re going to get drafted and you’re going to be stuck somewhere and you have to make the best of it. It can really make or break your career. I think we should stop the free agent shaming when people second-guess a player’s decision. If they decide to move on to a different team, that’s their right.”
Buss has the right mentality towards this. Players don’t have their pick of where to play for the first eight years of their career, generally speaking. So when they finally have the right to choose where to play, we should all be more willing to consider their right to do so.
This is going to come into play for the Lakers two-fold this summer. Obviously, they’re hoping to sign some star free agents from their current organizations and cities. But the Lakers may also lose one of their key free agents in Julius Randle. It’s not quite the same because he’s a restricted free agent and the Lakers can match offers but given the desire for more and more cap space, there’s a strong possibility that Randle will move on if he lasts that long.
If and when that time comes, Lakers fans should take a page out of Jeanie Buss’ book.