With Rob Pelinka in the front office, the Lakers have chased stars in virtually every way. Whether through trade or free agency, Pelinka and the Lakers have wanted a Big Three at all costs and, after failing multiple times, finally realized that plan through Russell Westbrook.
The result was, obviously, disastrous and the team was forced to cut bait, but what they stumbled into was better than anything they’ve had in recent years. With D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura, the Lakers have found not just depth, but great vibes and winning form.
And, perhaps most important, they’re fun again. The good vibes, the fun and the winning have fans as excited about the team not just in the present, but what they could be in the future with a full season together. Even D’Lo, a free-agent-to-be, has allowed himself to think about the possibility of the team with a training camp together.
Eyes keep drifting toward Kyrie Irving though. Even before building their new team, the Lakers gave their best go at acquiring Irving before he was dealt to the Mavericks. With him also being a free agent, the fear from many fans was the Lakers turning down their current roster to chase another star.
The good news is that the Lakers appear set to leave their star-chasing ways in the past, at least for now. In an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Jovan Buha of The Athletic noted the Lakers plans this offseason and that, right now, they don’t include Kyrie.
From what I’ve been told by my sources around the organization, they wanted to run this situation (current roster) back. It’s looked good so far. They’ve won a lot of games. They’ve done a lot of winning without LeBron James. That’s something that’s kind of been under-discussed. The non-LeBron minutes were always an issue for the Lakers going back to his first year in LA and the championship season… This is my third season on the beat, and this is the best chemistry and vibes I’ve seen around the team.
From what I’ve been told, they’re not going to be pursuing Kyrie Irving this offseason… To my knowledge and to what I’ve been told, the Kyrie ship, I think, has sailed. You never want to say never. That could easily change, but as of right now, their plan is to run this (team) back.
On top of Kyrie being a wholly unreliable player and a massive distraction off the court, Kyrie would come at the cost of much of their depth that has helped them absorb an injury to LeBron and even missed games, at times, from Anthony Davis.
While Kyrie has star power that the Lakers don’t have currently in their depth, the team has seen firsthand how hard it is to build around three stars when minimum contracts are all they have to offer.
Perhaps that also weighs into their decision, too. For as much as the NBA is a star-driven league, there is a point of diminishing return that the Lakers experienced with Westbrook.
The team won a title surrounding LeBron and AD with role players. This current roster is a return to that form and hopefully remains the plan for the team long term.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.