The subtext of the entire Los Angeles Lakers season was the team’s plans to recruit stars like LeBron James and Paul George once they become free agents this summer. The intention would be to pit a superstar — or two — alongside a young core of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart.
Though, for Ball, there wasn’t any worry about showcasing what the Lakers have to offer. “The way I play is to help my team win,” he said during an exit interview. “I’m not really worried about who’s not here, I’m worried about the guys who are here.
“I just did what I could to help my team out. Whether it be LeBron, Paul George, or whoever, if they liked it, they liked it. If they didn’t, they didn’t.”
Kuzma echoed a similar thought, saying the team is “not depending” on the Lakers making a splash in free agency. “We want to be those great players, we want to be those max-level guys,” he said.
However, the versatile forward, who himself impressed as a rookie, believes the Lakers make a compelling case. “Having the majority of the players who played this year were all young, we won 35 games,” Kuzma said. “It really just shows you we want to win, we’re really competitive.”
Similarly, Hart would welcome the Lakers signing a max-level free agent, but with the caveat that the young players currently on the roster don’t take a sigh of relief as they await for the process to unfold.
“If that happens I think it would be nothing but great for this team and franchise. But our job as players is to work like we’re not going to, work as if nobody is going to come here in free agency,” Hart said.
“To work as hard as we can to get to the next level. If we take that mindset into the offseason, work our butts off, do those things to get better, and we’re able to add some great players in free agency, it makes this team that much more dangerous.
“If we go into this offseason and think, ‘Oh man, we’re going to make a splash in free agency,’ and for whatever reason it doesn’t happen, then we’re behind the eight-ball. I think that could be great but we’ve got to approach this offseason like that’s not going to happen. It’s on us to get this team to the playoffs.”