Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson Cannot Afford To Screw This Offseason Up
The Los Angeles Lakers have dealt with a few issues on/off the court this past season. One of the biggest involved the trade rumors that have hovered over this team since last year. With the Lakers going in a new direction since Magic Johnson came onboard, the team has been in a downward spiral. While some will point the finger at Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, or Luke Walton, the truth is the front office is to blame. This much was brought out in a closed meeting between players, according to ESPN.
Once Kobe Bryant retired, the keys to the Los Angeles Lakers shifted to the young guns that included D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram. But somewhere between Mitch Kupchak being fired and Johnson moving in, things got lost in the shuffle. It no longer was about rebuilding, it became how fast can we get back to winning. I get it, this is the Los Angeles Lakers, home to 16 NBA championships and countless Hall of Fame players. But how did they get to this point?
Magic Johnson and new GM Rob Pelinka came in making bold moves. Their first was the trade of Russell for Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma. While Kuzma has been a breath of fresh air, adding Lopez has been nothing of the sort. Lopez struggled with the team and to make matters worse, he was paid $21 million to play that awful. Moving Russell was not about gaining Kuzma. The front office didn’t have a crystal ball and had no idea he would hit the NBA with such a force. The Russell trade was done for Lonzo Ball.
With Kawhi and George supposedly wanting to return home to join the Lakers, this puts Johnson and Pelinka on the clock. Can they get it done? And what happens if they do and it fails? Or better yet, what happens if they don’t?
To make these moves, the Los Angeles Lakers will need some serious help. First, they will need the San Antonio Spurs to agree to make a deal with a team that has been a rival. Sorry to say, but I don’t see this happening. With the Spurs knowing what the Los Angeles Lakers are trying to do in terms of building a Super Team, why would they help? Leonard has no say in where he’s traded so, in all honesty, the Lakers just lost Kawhi Leonard. With that, they may as well cross out Paul George which in turn will make LeBon James stay in the East. And just like that, Johnson has failed the Lakers.
But let’s say that everything works out and all three players are ready to commit, then what? That means that up and coming players like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram are now gone. The Lakers will have a tremendous squad, but are they still good enough to beat the Golden State Warriors? No. Not yet at least. Think about it.
Even with those three players, the Los Angeles Lakers will still need help. Their bench is one of the worse in the NBA then they will have little to no payroll left to upgrade their roster outside of the new Big 3. Paul, George, and James will total close to $100 million alone, leaving very little wiggle room for retaining talent. This is not like the Cavs or Heat where there were some hidden gems, the Lakers are still in rebuild mode.
Magic Johnson and Pelinka will have to work magic but in the end, is it all worth it?
Look at the three players mentioned to be coming to the team. What’s the one thing that sticks out? Yup, you guessed it, they all play the same positions. While each is versatile enough to play either the 3 or 4, neither can do more than that. LeBron can bring the ball up as a PG but he also likes to attack the rim and dish out to a shooter, Where are the shooters on the Lakers? George is a career 37.6 percent three-point shooter and Leonard has hit 38.6 percent from that range.
In the post they will give teams nightmares but who will guard Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, James Harden or Chris Paul? Hell, the Heat won only 2 of 4 titles. The Cavs with LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love lost their fair share and look what just happened with the Thunder this season. There are no guarantees they will strike lighting and if this all fails and Magic gives up a foundation of youth for players who may not gel, he’s no better than Mitch Kupchak.
On paper, this team looks solid but so did a lot of other Super Teams while being mentioned in the Facebook Groups and trade rumor articles. Magic Johnson has to decide if mortgaging the Lakers future on a dream is worth it.