A nine-win jump from from one season to another in a vacuum is usually enough to earn a longer look from a front office. When that increase goes from 17 wins to 26, well, that means the organization still has quite a few questions to answer.
This is where the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves, with a fresh team president-general manager combination heading the efforts.
The general consensus seems to be the Lakers really like their young core. Teammates made that pretty clear during the interviews. Rob Pelinka echoed the sentiment in his.
There’s quite a leap from liking a few players to deeming any of them worthy of the “untouchable” designation, especially when players as talented as Paul George could potentially be on the trade market this summer.
Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News joined Fred Roggin and Rodney Peete on AM570 this morning and put it pretty bluntly:
"On one hand, [Pelinka] is going to be aggressive in trying to come up with deals to upgrade this team," Medina said. "But he is very mindful that you aren't going to make a trade just for the sake of making a splash. It has the be a good deal. He likes this young core as far as their potential, but they're giving these guys a laundry list of things to work on to improve their game.
"If I had to guess, there are definitely going to be changes made. But as far as who stays and who leaves, it's obviously hard to tell at this point.
"No one is safe. They don't have a Kobe Bryant on the team anymore, so everyone is on the table right now."
That last part actually sounds a bit like what Mitch Kupchak said before the trade deadline, especially the part about Kobe. Kupchak obviously didn’t make it to the trade deadline, but the sentiment remains.
Medina going so far as to say there are “definitely” going to be changes made is somewhat interesting, though that could mean something as small as Metta World Peace not being around next year.
The inclination is probably to assume this might mean some kind of trade, but there simply is no way of knowing right now.
Pelinka has to first watch how Indiana’s season turns out. Preferably speaking, they would be handled quickly by Cleveland, just to make sure George doesn’t see title contention potential around him there and starts looking elsewhere.
Then, there’s that whole business of finding out if the Lakers will keep not only their top-three pick this season, but their first rounder in 2019. Losing those two assets make for a much more difficult route than being able to either take someone in this draft, or include the pick in a package for either George or a player of his talent level.
If the Lakers do lose their pick in next month’s lottery, it doesn’t make much sense to try to improve the roster all that drastically, as they’ll have their pick next season and it will probably be their last realistic chance at top-of-the-lottery talent for years to come. The kids will get better, as will the roster around them. That should happen naturally.
There are obviously innumerable scenarios and outcomes to the various hypotheticals swirling around the organization. Pelinka and Magic Johnson will have their work cut out for them, and they appear ready to do so with an open mind.
Anthony Irwin is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our latest episode on whether or not the Lakers should trade any of their young players below):