The Los Angeles Lakers enter the 2018 offseason in great shape. They have a really nice young core, tons of salary cap space, two respected men running the front office, an up-and-coming head coach and a feeling leaguewide like they’re on the verge of making a jump. With that in mind, what follows is a look at what I think the perfect offseason looks like for Magic Johnson’s team.
While there are a ton of routes Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka could choose to go, what follows is the best blueprint for long-term success.
Draft shooting and backcourt depth
First off, the draft is later this week and the Lakers have the 25th pick in the first round. With that selection they need to secure one of two things: a consistent 3-point threat, or an athletic backcourt player for the second unit. A guy like Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo would address both needs but he may not be on the board when the Lakers pick.
Resist trading young assets
While Kawhi Leonard rumors swirl, the Lakers should ignore them. Under no circumstances should they trade any members of their young core to land an All-Star.
The Lakers currently have four young players they absolutely should not move. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart should be untouchable.
All four players showed flashes of being outstanding NBA players last season, while Kuzma and Ingram were two of the best young players in the league. Ball has some growing up and adjusting to do and Hart came on strong at the end of the season. There is no reason to ship two or more of those players to get one All-Star, especially given how ridiculously cheap their contracts are.
I like Leonard, but surrendering assets for a guy who can come to LA as a free agent next year anyway is just foolish. If he really wants to be in Los Angeles, he should gut out this season and head there in free agency. If he’s not willing to do that, then it’s not worth it.