The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of a four-year run in which they set new franchise-lows in terms of record in three of the four years while missing the playoffs each season. Long story short, the team needs lots of upgrades all over the roster.
Some of those upgrades have and will come in the NBA Draft. The Lakers have the second overall pick this year, and should expect to see natural growth in the games of Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and the rest of their young core.
But usually the draft isn’t enough to totally rebuild a franchise. That reality is likely what sent the former Lakers front office of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss into free agency to spend $136 million on Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng because they felt they were the best available players last summer.
Outside of a few starry names that are all but assured to re-sign with their team, this summer’s free agency class is pretty much just as underwhelming. It’s why Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson has previously said the team will likely keep their powder dry until next summer.
Next offseason may seem like a long way away, but Johnson is already hyped for it:
"We feel next year's class is going to be a special class of free agents...— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) May 25, 2017
One superstar could change our roster, change our team"
2018 free agents like DeMarcus Cousins and (especially) Paul George have both been connected to the Lakers in the past, and would appear like much more available options than the current crop of available players this offseason.
Patience isn’t always fun, but with a team as young as the Lakers it doesn’t make any sense to rush. None of the main members of the Lakers’ young core are anywhere close to hitting their prime, so the team might as well give them another year to grow together, to show their potential before trying to use their promise to either recruit free agents or entice other teams to swap them for a superstar.
Whatever the Lakers decide to do, we likely won’t know until next summer. Johnson isn’t wrong that the presence of a single superstar would change things, allowing the team to use them to entice other talented players to sign up. It just sounds like fans will have to wait one more year.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.