To this point, most fans of the Los Angeles Lakers have operated under the assumption that the front office’s lone goal this summer is to add superstars at all costs. Call it blissful ignorance, but the very concept of anything but that scenario simply isn’t donning on many. Still, the Lakers have to keep their options open, and one way to recover from not adding free agents is to extend the youth-centered rebuild.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor relayed some of what he’s heard regarding the Lakers intentions on the latest episode of The Ringer NBA Show.
“I have heard the Lakers are looking to either add a pick either in the middle of the first round, or trade up from the 25th pick into the middle of the first round to draft a player they are targeting-Zhaire Smith is a name I’ve heard they are very high on.
So if that’s true, I’ve also heard that would also mean they have the willingness to add salary this summer, like Ramona Shelburne has reported before they would be willing to add money this summer and then pursue free agents in 2019. Ramona reported that before, and I’ve heard that again this week.”
The Lakers are one a very few teams with cap room this summer, leaving all kinds of owners probably not all that willing to spend the amount they’re spending on a team that doesn’t have a legitimate shot at winning a title. So, if one of those teams are desperate enough to attach a first-round-pick to a bad contract, the Lakers would be remiss not to answer that call.
For example, if the Lakers miss out on LeBron James and/or Paul George, they could take advantage of another team’s fruitless spending and add a player they really liked during the pre-draft workout process (in this case Smith) or a future first- or second-round pick that could be used in any number of ways.
Draft night is always thoroughly entertaining but could serve as a forecast for how Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office feel about their chances at LeBron, George or any other key free agent signing this summer. If a move like the one O’Connor or Shelburne mention takes place, we might start to get some clarity on how the rest of the offseason might play out, as unfortunate as it might seem.
Pete Zayas and I had a conversation about this scenario playing out last week. Give it a listen if you haven’t yet.