With the Los Angeles Lakers recently introducing head coach Frank Vogel, they are attempting to move forward in one of the most important offseasons in team history.
Armed with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a max-contract slot in free agency, there is an opportunity to improve the roster around LeBron James. However, more than a month after former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson resigned, he appeared on ESPN’s First Take where he identified general manager Rob Pelinka as the ‘backstabber.’
Following Johnson’s comments, it is unclear how it will ultimately impact Pelinka and the Lakers moving forward as they are in search of a second All-Star player via free agency or trade.
As Kyrie Irving has settled his differences with James, he has become ‘more open’ about reuniting with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate in Los Angeles, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“If you had asked me six months ago, I’d have said the door was closed and locked. That was not going to happen. But over the last few months, there has no doubt been a thawing between Kyrie and LeBron. And Kyrie has become more open to joining the Lakers and has done some research on the organization.”
While the Lakers currently may not be Irving’s first option, the Boston Celtics should ‘still be worried’ about them:
“That said, with Magic leaving — that was a guy he felt a connection to — and with great opportunities in Brooklyn and in New York plus Boston trying to keep him, I think the Lakers are lower on his list. But they’re on his list and that gives them a fighting chance. Boston is got to still be worried about the Lakers in the Kyrie pursuit.”
Although Irving requested a trade and wanted to be a team’s first option, he was able to relate to James during the 2018-19 NBA season. While the Celtics have a nice blend of veterans and prospects, they could never come together as a team and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
As Irving has been linked to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, there is no guesswork between him and James. After James returned to Cleveland, they won one championship in three consecutive NBA Finals appearances against the Golden State Warriors.
Heading into July 1, some teams are reportedly ‘wary’ of signing Irving after what transpired during his second season with the Celtics. While it is unclear if the Lakers are one of these teams, Johnson revealed he would have targeted Irving or Kawhi Leonard in free agency.