The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of things they probably hope go right for them during the 2016-17 NBA season.
The team will need to see growth from its young players like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. The front office is likely also hoping that free agent acquisitions Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not just help put those younger players in a position to succeed, but to play well enough to potentially build value as tradeable assets as well while keeping the Lakers from the league-laughing stock status they’ve attained over the last several years.
But above all else, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson is hoping for one thing: Success in free agency the following summer, via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:
“All I want us to do,” Johnson said, “is have a good season where free agents look and say, ‘Oh man, I can see myself in that lineup and with that team.’ And we can step up to another level.”
In the above scenario, the Lakers’ record doesn’t even really matter. The team needs to win enough games to avoid the basement of the league, but as long as they do that, if Ball, Ingram and Kuzma play well enough to look like fun teammates to play alongside over the next several seasons, how many wins and losses the Lakers finish with might not really entering the minds of free agents.
Los Angeles has a ton of benefits to sell, from amazing weather, an ownership group that’s been willing to pay what it takes to win titles and the chance to help revive an iconic franchise while learning from arguably the most iconic player to ever play for them.
All the young Lakers have to do to allow Johnson to sell that vision is just look good enough that a player like LeBron James can see them as either promising enough talent to begin to carry him whenever he begins to slow down, or good enough to trade for more win-now stars. Either scenario would be a win for the Lakers in free agency, the team just has to have a decent season to do it.