The pressure will mount next summer as the Lakers preserve cap space to go after max free agents.
Since taking over duties, Magic Johnson (Lakers president of basketball operations) and Rob Pelinka (General manager) have done a fairly solid job. You’re probably saying to yourself that they haven’t really signed anyone of significance? That is true, but Magic and Pelinka have made it clear that they are trying to go all in next year in the 2018 NBA free agency pool. A move that surprised everyone was the trade of former number 2 pick D’Angelo Russell and teammate Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and 27th pick in which they drafted Kyle Kuzma out of Utah. This move was done in order to eliminate the highly criticized contract of Mozgov which was for 4-yrs, $64 mil. Keep in mind that the signing of Mozgov was under the old regime of Kupchack and Jim Buss. The current front office believed that Russell was not the leader they had hoped for. The trade freed up more than $22 mil in cap space to use next summer. Cap space is something the Lakers front office is holding sacred as they will try to turn the franchise around by possibly signing 2 max free agents in the summer of 2018.
But all the pressure is on Magic and Pelinka to produce. The Lakers will have the daunting task of improving from last season especially with the team getting younger. This season will probably be like last season where they’ll most likely try to develop the young potential stars in Ball and Ingram. The Lakers haven’t been relevant when it comes to winning or the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season. Patience in Los Angeles is growing thin and fans want to see winning basketball soon. Paul George’s name has been attached to Lakers rumors for quite some time and many believe that he will end up with the Lakers in 2018, but nothing should be assumed now that Paul George is teamed up with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Other names have also floated around the rumor mill like: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, possibly joining the Lakers next summer. Both Magic and Pelinka have a lot of work to do to try to convince a franchise changing player(s) to join their team. It will be interesting to see if they can pull off something special in the near future.