5 Bold, Savvy Moves To Transform Lakers From Chumps To Champs!

8 min readMay 27, 2024

Listening to LeBron James and JJ Redick rave about how two superstars and a deep and diverse roster of elite roleplayers who are stars in their own roles is the blueprint to win an NBA championship is music to my ears.

Hearing that your 39-year old superstar and 39-year old future head coach are in complete agreement about the best balance between superstars and elite roleplayers when it comes to winning championships is great news.
While the Lakers need to acquire a replacement for LeBron James at some point in time, it’s reassuring that James and Redick are fans of the two-superstars-and-deep-roster model rather than the three-superstars model.

While their front office believes the team underperformed due to injuries and the coaching situation, it’s obvious the Lakers are two or three players away from being able to compete with the four remaining playoff teams.
The Lakers desperately need a legitimate point-of-attack guard who can hound opposing ball handlers, bigger wing who can drain threes and guard scorers, and backup center who can stretch the court and protect the rim.

Realistically, it’s nearly impossible under the current CBA for an NBA team to pay maximum salaries to three superstars and still be able to build a starting lineup and roster deep and diverse enough to win a championship.
While they’ll still chase superstars like Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray, the Lakers would be wiser to use their trade assets for a legit POA guard, bigger 3&D wing, and backup center instead of third superstar.

Here are the five bold and savvy moves the Los Angeles Lakers should make this summer to upgrade their starting lineup, expand defensive depth and diversity, and transform the team from chumps to champs.

1. Hire JJ Redick

The first bold and savvy move the Lakers need to make this summer to transform themselves from chumps to champs is to shoot for the moon and hire inexperienced 39-year old JJ Redick to be the team’s next head coach.

Frankly, the Lakers have all but officially committed to Redick as their next head coach. It would be hard at this point not to hire JJ after publicly saying they’re looking for a superstar coach and then comparing Redick to Riley.
While Pelinka’s job has up to now been protected by Kobe Bryant’s ghost, Rob knows this will likely be his last attempt as general manager to find a long-term head coach who could recreate the success of Riley and Jackson.

Rob Pelinka knows his future and legacy as GM will depend on whom he chooses to be the Lakers’ next head coach. the Lakers desperately need coaching stability after firing three straight coaches over the last 7 years.
They need a superstar coach, a Steve Kerr or Eric Spoelstra, Pat Riley or Phil Jackson, a generational head coach with a transformational vision that values thinking outside-the box and building a championship culture.

The NBA is in the midst of a major transition of best the stars and teams. Bottom line, the Lakers clearly need to modernize their approach to the game, get bigger, longer, more athletic, and shoot a lot more threes.
The good news is the Lakers know how important it is to find the team’s next Pat Riley or Phil Jackson. They’ve also committed to spend whatever’s necessary to provide JJ Redick with an elite experienced coaching staff.

The Lakers desperately need a smart, young, visionary head coach like JJ Redick who can help recreate the winning identity and culture of the Riley and Jackson reigns and catapult L.A. into another championship dynasty.

2. Re-Sign D’Angelo Russell

The second bold and savvy move the Lakers should make this offseason to transform themselves into legitimate contenders is re-sign D’Angelo Russell as their starting point guard as he is simply too valuable to lose for nothing.

Even if there were an available replacement, the last thing L.A. needs right now is to add new starting point guard to a list of roster needs that already includes POA defensive guard, big 3&D wing, and stretch backup center.
Frankly, short of trading for Trae Young, there are no reasonable available upgrades for D’Angelo Russell, which means the Lakers need to seriously consider re-signing DLO and strengthening the starting lineup around him.

Next to hiring a new head coach, deciding what to do with D’Angelo Russell is the Lakers second biggest offseason decision. The reality is that DLO was a major reason why the Lakers finished the regular season on a great run.
Russell essentially transformed himself midseason into the high volume, high percentage 3-point shooter that the Lakers have desperately needed the last three years and that’s an asset you can’t let walk away for nothing.

The ideal solution for the Lakers would be for D’Angelo Russell to accept his $18.7 million player option for the coming season and sign a new 3-year contract starting at $20 million per season with a 3rd year player option.
That would give DLO the long-term security he desires while allowing the Lakers to avoid losing him for nothing to free agency. It would also be a smart investment in a talented young player who is still just 28-years old.

The Lakers need to realize how valuable DLO’s volume 3-point shooting and elite playmaking are and that it would be wiser to re-sign him, surround him with better starters, and groom him to become an even better player.

3. Trade For Marcus Smart

The third bold and savvy offseason move the Lakers need to make is trade for 30-year old shooting guard Marcus Smart to become the point-of-attack perimeter defender and ideal backcourt complement for D’Angelo Russell.

As the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year and a 3-time All-Defensive First Team winner, Marcus Smart would be the perfect point-of-attack alpha dog perimeter defender to pair with offense first point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Smart would give the Lakers the lock-down defender they need to guard the high scoring guards in the West like Devin Booker, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

An elite point-of-attack guard is one of the Lakers’ greatest needs heading into next season and a critical one if L.A. wants to retain D’Angelo Russell’s high volume, high percentage 3-point shooting and top-flight playmaking.
A backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Marcus Smart would give the Lakers a dynamic and diverse duo with outstanding size, length, and athleticism who can shoot, defend, rebound, and playmake at a championship level.

The Memphis Grizzlies gave up backup point guard Tyus Jones, recently drafted rookie Marcus Sasser, and a future first round pick to acquire Marcus Smart from the Boston Celtics in a 3-team trade last summer.
Trading for Smart will cost the Lakers valuable draft capital in the form of their unprotected 2029 first round pick, unprotected 2030 first round pick swap, and matching salaries of Vincent, Reddish, and Hood-Schifino.

Marcus Smart would give the Lakers the elite defensive stopper needed to be a legit championship contender and the perfect backcourt mate needed complement and support elite offense-first point guard D’Angelo Russell.

4. Trade For Jonathan Isaac

The fourth bold and savvy move the Los Angeles Lakers need to make this summer is trading for mercurial 26-year old Magic forward Jonathan Isaac who would become the team’s bigger 3&D forward to guard wing scorers.

At 6' 10" and 230 lbs, Jonathan Isaac has the elite physical size, length, and athleticism to play all three front court positions. Ideally, he would start at the three so LeBron James could play the four and Anthony Davis the five.
Like Rui Hachimura, Isaac is an elite offensive player who can stretch the court with his 3-point shooting. Unlike Rui, Jonathan is also an elite shot blocker, rebounder, and individual defender who can guard all 5 positions.

The beauty of the Lakers acquiring Jonathan Isaac is the offensive and defensive versatility he brings to L.A.’s starting lineup. He legitimately has the potential to become the Lakers’ third superstar and replace LeBron.
But trading for Isaac would be a huge gamble since he only played in 11 games in three seasons before getting healthy and playing in 58 games this season. The lure is he’s still only 26 and now appears to be fully healthy.

The Magic have a tough decision to make this summer as Isaac has a non-guaranteed contract for $17.4 million for next season. Considering his horrible injury history, Jonathan’s stint with Orlando could well be over.
Orlando desperately needs 3-point shooters and Los Angeles’ trade offer of Hachimura and their 2031 unprotected first round pick could be enough to motivate the Magic to guarantee Isaac and trade him to the Lakers.

In many ways, Jonathan Isaac is maybe the closest thing to a clone of Anthony Davis the Lakers could find anywhere in the league. He’s the perfect front court complement for LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

5. Draft Kyle Filipowski

The fifth bold, savvy move the Lakers should make this summer is draft 20-year Kyle Filipowski, who can stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting and protect the rim with his shot blocking, to become their backup center.

After struggling during his freshman year, Filipowski enjoyed a better sophomore year at Duke, averaging an improved 16.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals in 30.4 minutes per game.
At 7' 0" and 250 lbs, Filipowski is an excellent modern two-way center who can contribute to winning at both ends of the court. What separates Kyle from other college center prospects is his elite 3-point shooting stroke.

With a dramatically improved starting lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Marcus Smart, Jonathan Isaac, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, Kyle Filipowski is the last piece of creating a bench that can backup every starting position.
The Lakers backups would include Austin Reaves at the one, Max Christie at the two, Jarred Vanderbilt at the three, Christian Wood at the four, and Kyle Filipowski at the five. That’s a very deep and diverse 10-man rotation.

The Lakers were smart to use draft capital for a new POA starting guard in Marcus Smart, new starting bigger 3&D wing defender in Jonathan Smart, and new modern backup center in Kyle Filipowski rather than a third star.
Financially, looking to upgrade the starting lineup rather than pursuing a third superstar gives the Lakers far more cap flexibility and options to build a legitimate championship roster than if they opted for three superstars.

Drafting Kyle Filipowski with the #17 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft is the Lakers’ best opportunity to find a quality big man who can be a dangerous 3-point shooter and elite rim protector when Anthony Davis rests.

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Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.