The Los Angeles Lakers have completed the 2015 NBA Draft, selecting D'Angelo Russell out of Ohio State with their second overall pick, as well as Wyonming's Larry Nance, Jr. and Stanford's Anthony Brown, finishing a process in which the team worked out upwards of 83 players. It was an extensive undertaking that could have a huge payoff. The Lakers think Russell's "unlimited upside," while the entire draft drew high marks. Now the team is ready for the next step on its journey back from the bottom of the league.
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Next up is free agency, and to help present the image to both fans and prospective recruits of a franchise that is ready to win, Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss spoke to USA Today's Sam Amick for a feature story, touching on a wide range of topics that included competing for free agents with her fiancee, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson and more.
Most notably, Buss shared her feelings on the team's tumultuous last few years. Jeanie has been critical of the Lakers' direction in the past, but she's ready to watch a "different generation" of Lakers basketball, via Amick:
"It's not a purging, but a reset of a different generation," she continued. "And now the table has cleared, and you're going to start to see exactly what the future of Lakers basketball is going to be, because our front office - (her brother and vice president of basketball operations) Jim Buss, (general manager) Mitch Kupchak - has all the things that they need to put their vision out on the floor."
It sounds like the Lakers front office is preparing to build a competitive team. Jim Buss may not be as bad as many Lakers fans seem to think, but for a franchise that publicly evaluates itself based on how many banners it has in the rafters, he is certainly under pressure to rebuild the franchise to that level after two consecutive years where the team set a new mark for worst record in franchise history.
The drafting of Russell to slot in to the Lakers' young core alongside Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson is the teams' first move toward becoming competitive again. The next step is free agency, beginning July 1st. After the team completes tweaking and adding onto the roster it should look drastically different. Jeanie is hoping the Lakers land the "right" player that wants to excel on the "largest stage in the NBA":
"We have the largest stage in the NBA in terms of exposure for a player," she said. "I think we have all the pieces. It's just if that fits what (free agents) want for their career as well. I think there are players who it will be attractive to, and there are players who are looking for something different.
"I'm just optimistic, and I think there's the right player or players out there where this is attractive to them, and that's what we want, someone who's on the same page with what we're doing. It's exciting."
Could this summer be the big pendulum-swing LA needs? There's excitement within the front office that Lakers basketball is on it's way back.