The Los Angeles Lakers have endured five straight seasons with no playoffs in part due to their inability to recruit stars to LA. What was once known as a prime destination for free agents became a rejection spot for the biggest names in basketball as the team continued to bottom out with some of the worst teams in franchise history.
That stigma may be changing, however. The Lakers had a successful season, surprising many by hitting 35 wins despite being led by young coaches and players and despite a bevy of injuries to the team’s most important players. With a talented and over-achieving young core as well as plenty of open salary in a summer where most teams are cap-strapped, there’s plenty of reason for hope that the Lakers can change things around.
As the Lakers get geared for the most important offseason in five years, Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins wrote a feature on the new front office led by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka and the Lakers’ plans for the future.
In it, Jenkins sources an anonymous all-star who claims the Lakers will be able to sign a significant player sometime soon:
“They’ll get somebody soon,” says an All-Star due to hit free agency in the near future. “They play hard. They play together. They know their role. And, most important, they’re in Los Angeles.”
These things obviously always have to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not the first time someone has said other people want to move to Southern California for a job with the most prestigious franchise in the NBA.
But there does finally seem to be some smoke and, in this case, there might be a fire causing it. The young players have improved and shown promise for the future. Luke Walton has instilled a culture that led to high-effort winning plays from his team and that has caught the attention of people across the NBA. Johnson and Pelinka bring about a level of credibility and charisma that the Lakers have not had in their front office since Jerry West left the organization. And LA is still a pretty cool place to live.
The Lakers have invested a lot of capital in putting themselves in the position to make pitches to LeBron James, Paul George and any other All-Star who will listen. They are also in a position to withstand another free agency whiff and continue growing their promising young core.
Either way, the Lakers are set to be one of the most intriguing destinations and storylines of the offseason.