The Los Angeles Lakers enter the 2018 NBA offseason as one of the more intriguing teams to monitor this summer. Not only does the organization have a talented, young core to sell to upcoming free agents, but it also possesses the most projected cap space to boot.
That sets the Lakers up well to pursue the likes of Paul George and LeBron James in the coming months. After a lengthy rebuild, landing either of the aforementioned free agents figures to quickly accelerate the franchise’s timeline of becoming a championship contender again.
Signing one of George or James would be a boon to the Lakers, let alone luring both to Los Angeles. But president of basketball operations Magic Johnson doesn’t believe fielding a ‘Big Three’ is essential in today’s era.
Rather, Johnson points to the Boston Celtics’ blueprint of pairing one or two superstars with a collection of young talent, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“We had to show that we have really good young players, and we did that,” Johnson says. “That’s what guys and their agents want to see: ‘If I put my talent with your talent, can we win?’ I think we proved you can.” Beyond the Oklahoma City and Miami models, Johnson admires another blueprint, in Boston. “Kyrie Irving got with young, talented players,” Johnson says. “It’s not that you have to have a Big Three anymore. You have to have young horses to go with a superstar or two.”
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka echoed similar sentiments by previously praising the Celtics for capitalizing on a unique opportunity when they acquired Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade last offseason.
Pelinka specifically pointed out the Celtics’ cap space situation and hoard of young players that allowed them to make such a deal for a proven star in Irving. In turn, Pelinka made note that the Lakers do not need to solely rely on signing free agents as a means of utilizing cap space.
The Lakers are well-positioned going forward, regardless if they make a splash this summer or not. The 2019 free-agent class is also filled with a plethora of talent, when the likes of Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson could test the open market.
Or, in Leonard’s case, the Lakers might find themselves heavily involved in a potential trade. It’s believed Leonard at least has some desire to make the move to Los Angeles.
That being said, Johnson doesn’t feel obliged to hand out a lucrative contract this summer for the sake of spending money. If he isn’t able to land one of the big fish, the Lakers will shift their focus elsewhere.