Lakers should focus on free agency!
Forget trades. The Lakers need to focus on free agency, keep their young core, and build a sustainable championship team
Now that the trade deadline frenzy is over, it’s time for the Lakers to focus their rebuilding master plan on free agency and their talented young core as the best path to build a sustainable championship team rather than trades.
Once the initial disappointment wears off, Lakers’ fans should celebrate the Pelicans’ rejection of their Godfather offer for AD as it would have left the team bereft of the cap space and picks needed to build a championship team. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were wise to pull their last offer and must now recommit to their young core by embracing a rebuilding strategy that focuses upon free agency and player development and rejects major trades.
While the media loves to portray Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka as ‘getting played’ by the Pelicans’ front office, the Lakers accomplished the only sure thing they could control in these negotiations: they earned Rich Paul’s and Anthony Davis’ loyalty by offering everything they could to pull off the trade. When the Lakers revisit pursuing Anthony Davis this or next summer, you can be sure ‘trust’ will be the major factor in where he ultimately decides to go.
Focusing on free agency instead of trades is necessary because teams are always going to be trying not to trade superstars to the Lakers, especially when LeBron James and Klutch Sports are involved as with Anthony Davis. It’s also a move the Lakers desperately need to mend fences with their young core and begin to restore the chemistry, trust, and continuity needed to make the playoffs, finish the year strong, and set the stage for this summer.
While the Lakers will undoubtedly try to trade for Davis again this summer, don’t expect them to make the same offer. Instead, I expect them to make a low-ball take-it-or-leave-it offer nowhere near as good as their earlier offer. The Lakers may make a trade to upgrade the roster but free agency will be their primary focus going forward as they look to sign Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Klay Thompson this summer or Anthony Davis next summer.
The Pelicans ignoring the Lakers offer and the ensuing vitriol and anti-Lakers sentiments dominating social media are clear signs the Lakers best route to landing a second superstar to pair with LeBron James will be via free agency.
Magic Johnson’s grand plan for the Los Angeles Lakers was always about free agency and his ability to sell prospective superstar free agents to come to LA. That’s why Jeanie Buss hired him. To sell superstars on joining the Lakers. This summer boasts the greatest class of unrestricted free agent superstars in history, headed by Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and Tobias Harris.
The media hype that LeBron’s ‘toxic’ and nobody wants to join the Lakers to play with him is mostly wishful thinking by jealous and fearful competitors. Two ball dominant superstars can easily co-exist if they’re selfless players surrounded by a strong supporting cast and bench. Most superstars today are about winning and understand pairing up with another superstar is essential. Some superstar will to want to play with the greatest player on the planet.
Adopting a free agency first strategy to chase KD, Kawhi, or Klay this summer or AD next summer is the perfect path for the Lakers to follow to build a truly sustainable championship team that can still win after LeBron James retires. Frankly, the Lakers need to land their second superstar via free agency. The only reason they should even consider trading for Anthony Davis would be if they sign Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Klay Thompson this summer.
The silver lining in the Pelicans rejecting the Lakers’ Grandfather offer is it will now give Luke Walton and the young Lakers the opportunity to show the Lakers’ management and every NBA front office that they’re the real deal. The Lakers were a top four team in the West before LeBron and Lonzo went down and are primed to break out again with Lonzo returning right after the All-Star break and newbies Bullock and Muscala bringing better shooting.
Last night’s thrilling come from behind win against the hated Boston Celtics was exactly what I was hoping for and what the Lakers needed to put all the negativity from the failed attempt to trade for Anthony Davis behind them.
Just as he did after being called on the carpet by Magic earlier this season, Luke Walton exalted his tight players last night to just go out, play the game, and have fun after a frustrating first quarter found them trailing the Celtics. And just like they responded back in November with four straight wins to save Luke’s job, LeBron and the shorthanded Lakers once again came to the rescue with a stunning buzzer-beating road win over the Boston Celtics.
It was an epic battle between former superstar teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and between the talented young cores of the Lakers and Celtics. Last night, the nod goes to LeBron and the undermanned Lakers’ young core. who set a franchise record with 22 made threes, took masterful care of the ball with a miserly eight turnovers, and survived despite missing 11 of 18 free throws, an Achilles heel that could very well cost them dearly in the playoffs.
The Lakers just announced that Magic Johnson plans to fly to Philadelphia to meet with the team before their big road game next Sunday versus the 76ers. That’s a smart move that shows the Lakers know they have fences to mend. While they weren’t able to land Anthony Davis, the Lakers did make a couple of small moves to improve their 3-point shooting to give LeBron more spacing to attack the paint and setup easy dunks by bigs or open threes by shooters.
Reggie Bullock should finally give the Lakers a dead eye shooter who thrives on burying catch-and-shoot threes, attempting almost seven triples per game and hitting 39% of them. Just 27 years old, the 6' 7" Bullock is exactly just what LeBron and the Lakers need and could become a keeper come summer. Mike Muscala is a sweet shooting stretch four or five who’s a career 36% 3-point shooter with the size to be a good post defender to backup Kuzma.
The Lakers immediate challenge and priority this year is to make the playoffs and position themselves as a fast rising team loaded with young and veteran talent that’s just a second superstar away from winning a championship
Right now, the Lakers record is 28–27 with 2 games before the All-Star break and 25 games after, including 4 in February, 15 in March, and 5 in April. Overall, the Lakers have the league’s ninth toughest remaining schedule. There’s a chance they could get Lonzo Ball back shortly after the break, which would give their transition offense and overall defense the kind of kick start they will need to jump past the Kings and Clipper and make the playoffs.
Lakers’ fans need to remember that, before LeBron and Lonzo went down, the Lakers were a clear top-four team in the West. If they can get healthy, there’s a good chance they will be an even better team come the playoffs. That’s why it’s best to avoid the frenzied social media hype artists who are screaming in all CAPS about all the mistakes Magic Johnson has made and how owner Jeanie Buss needs to fire both Luke Walton and Rob Pelinka.
The truth is the Lakers are in great position to be a feared and dangerous team in the playoffs this season with a golden opportunity to add a second superstar this summer or next to create a sustainable championship team. That’s why it’s so important for them to focus on free agency rather than major trades to land a second superstar. We’ve seen how teams with two superstars but no depth or versatility can struggle to compete for a title.
Ultimately, the Lakers plan to use free agency to sign to land a second superstar to play with LeBron James. Their goal is Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson this summer or Anthony Davis next summer.