The path forward for the Los Angeles Lakers is becoming pretty clear, especially after the D’Angelo Russell trade. Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson are pushing their chips into the middle of the table in a gamble to hopefully give an immediate boost to the organization after next year’s free agency window.
Pelinka appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show” and put this plan in no uncertain terms, when asked about the direction of the organization. This after comparing the Lakers’ current state to a 16-year-old Taylor Swift.
“And then the final plan,” Pelinka started, “Magic and I did a trade to allow us to have double-max cap room a July from now, so with our platform we’re really hopeful that we can add maybe a superstar or two to this young core and have the best of both worlds.”
It’s interesting that Pelinka and Magic seem to be operating under the assumption that they’ll have two max slots next summer when, as of right now, they do not.
One of either Luol Deng (who could be stretched if a trade suitor doesn’t come calling) or Jordan Clarkson would have to be moved, as might Julius Randle, who is set to be a restricted free agent at year’s end.
The Lakers would also have to renounce the rights to newly-acquired guys like Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who have cap holds north of $30 and $20 million, respectively.
No matter how they clear up the required space for two stars, the fact that Pelinka and Johnson consistently talk about that as less a goal and more an inevitability, it’s pretty safe to assume anyone with significant money owed beyond this year is not safe moving forward.
One last note on why it’s important that the Lakers make room for two max slots: If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that NBA superstars don’t want to be the lone star for very long, if at all. The Lakers’ chances of convincing a Paul George or LeBron James go up significantly if they can promise them the chance at playing together.
The Lakers have a plan in place and while it could be incredibly risky, at the very least, they aren’t wavering in understanding what needs to be done.