The Los Angeles Lakers are on the eve of free agency beginning, just over 24 hours before the gates to the next chaotic chapter of the NBA offseason open.
The Lakers have been busy shuffling their deck as Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka prepare for their first summer running an NBA franchise. The duo has been making their mark on the team — for better or for worse pending results — and now can round out their first full roster makeover in free agency.
Don’t expect a big splash from the Lakers, though. Reports, and quotes from both Pelinka and Magic over the past few months, point to the team taking a very cautious approach to making any dents in the space they’ve begun carving for the summer of 2018.
Johnson, speaking with Mike Bresnahan and Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet Thursday afternoon, once again had very tempered expectations for this round of signings.
"We're not going to be a major player. We're probably going to sign one or two guys, and there will be guys that fit a need for us, maybe a shooter, but other than that we're excited about what we've already built and what we were able to do draft night,” Johnson said.
The Lakers desperately need to address their three-point shooting deficit. Trading D’Angelo Russell stripped the team of one of its best perimeter shooters, and now Jordan Clarkson is the only remaining Laker from last season that made over 100 three-pointers. He did so while shooting 32.9 percent from deep, a less-than ideal clip.
Brook Lopez is prepared to be one of the focal points of the Lakers’ offense and definitely gives them the added dimension of having a legitimate floor spacing big man. Los Angeles needs help on the perimeter from their forwards and guards.
That might be one of the reasons the team grabbed up Josh Hart, who has potential as a three-and-D shooting guard. It’s clear they’ll have to look to free agency to address that obvious hole in their roster, though.
Johnson believes the team has already made enough moves to remain competitive, while also creating important cap space for the future when they traded Russell.
“We're excited about not just this season but our future, and we created the cap space. But we didn't go all the way down where some teams create cap space and the team is bad. We created cap space and we're going to have a solid team, and an exciting team for our fan base. We have a bright future, and that was the key, making sure we had a bright future as well,” Magic said.
With no Paul George trade in sight, it appears the next focus for the front office is finding the right role player or two to address defensive and three-point shooting issues.
*Quotes transcribed via Spectrum SportsNet. You can listen to our free agency preview below: