The Los Angeles Lakers are mere weeks away from the beginning of the latest most important offseason in franchise history. They have to be hoping this summer will be the last of those for quite some time, and according to one anonymous executive, they aren’t that far off.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic reported that, at least according to this executive, perhaps the Lakers are as few as one move away:
“I don’t think the Lakers have to do that much to be good,” one Western Conference executive said. “LeBron is like a trampoline. If they do just a little, take a little jump, they bounce right up with him.”
A partnering of LeBron with, say, Jimmy Butler, who will be a free agent but his star has faded a little in Philadelphia, and some surrounding of LeBron with players more suited to his style is an example of what the Lakers could do, according to the rival exec.
Here’s the thing: This has always been the case. It’s why it was so maddening when the Lakers front office saw a strategy that had been working about as long as James has been in the league and thought — in their seemingly unending hubris — that they could outsmart a decade and a half’s worth of sample size that said LeBron plus shooters equals wins.
After LeBron committed last year, the Lakers used the remaining $29 million of cap space and acquired Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley, then retained the services of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope after a solid year
of helping the Lakers tamper with James. Had the Lakers simply put together a roster that followed the strategy of pairing LeBron with shooters a little more closely than this one did, we might be looking at a very different outcome on the season.
At the very least, we know it couldn’t go much worse than this year did.
Rather than merely supplementing the young core with players who can fill in necessary gaps, they replicated too many of them, making the roster far too shallow to be able to deal with an injury-filled, 82-game season.
So the Lakers head into this summer with a ton of work to do to make up for the season they just put fans through this year. It all starts with the lottery, but if that goes according to plan, they’ll have LeBron, a talented young core, a top-10 pick and a bunch of cap space. As this western executive points out, they aren’t that far off.
The thing is, though, they’ve never been that far off. They have LeBron James. Just don’t screw it up again is all we can really ask for.
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