The 2018 NBA free agency class comes with more significance for the Los Angeles Lakers than years past. Of course, it’s that failure of success that’s put the organization under additional pressure this summer.
With young and intriguing talent on the roster, and an overhauled front office led by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, the Lakers are widely expected to end their drought by signing at least one marquee free agent.
While Johnson and Pelinka inherited a roster that was bogged down by multiple bad contracts, they quickly moved to shed salary in order to put the organization in position to sign two max players in 2018 free agency.
Of course, recent history has proven having ample cap room is far from a guarantee to securing the signature of marquee talent. A primary reason later given for the swing-and-misses was a subpar presentation made by Lakers front office personnel.
Johnson appeared on the latest “Connected With…” episode and provided some insight on how his pitch to free agents will differ from that of the previous regime, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“When you break down our team, you say, ‘Man, if I put myself in that lineup with that talent, we’re not only a playoff team but we’re one of the best teams in basketball and one of the top teams in the West.’ So, that’s my pitch. It’s not the marketing, it’s not the branding. It’s about basketball and winning. What I’m building here is a championship-caliber team. If you want to win, and you want guys to help you to win, we’ve got that. We’ve got the best practice facility in all of basketball, best owners in Jeanie and her brothers and sisters. We feel like we’re ready to explode. That’s why I’m on everybody to be better, whether that’s the players, coaching staff or anybody that works in the Lakers office. … I think free agents will look and say, ‘Wow, he’s right. With myself we’re right there.'”
At the top of the Lakers’ wish list presumably is LeBron James. He’s long been rumored to be bound for Los Angeles, and James recently purchasing a second mansion in Southern California further fueled speculation.
While the Lakers currently boast a strong collection of young talent, their roster landscape could very well change by the time free agency begins. Most notably, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle have emerged as potential trade chips.
Although Johnson and Pelinka have already moved the organization toward a better position, they will be under an intense microscope when the summer months roll around.
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