Magic Johnson is working his magic once more for the Purple and Gold. In one fell swoop, the Los Angeles Lakers got rid of a dreadful contract and an awful attitude while getting a solid big man, who happens to have an expiring contact, in return.
The Lakers already has a young core that can develop into a cohesive unit though Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle can still be traded. With D’Angelo Russell gone, Brandon Ingram becomes the Lakers player with the biggest potential.
The Lakers opened up a need for a lead guard when it traded Russell, along with center Timofey Mozgov, to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick of the 2017 NBA Rookie Draft. The team may also part ways with Clarkson if the Indiana Pacers agree to trade Paul George to his hometown Lakers. If Magic and the rest of the Lakers think tank decide that Lonzo Ball can lead the team, the young stud will be tasked with playing point for a potential super team.
The Lakers are reportedly working on bringing George home before the draft. Magic is rumored to be offering either Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the 27th and 28th first round picks for George. However, the Pacers have yet to bite as Indiana likely prefers to get either Ingram or the second pick overall.
If a trade is not consummated, George can still end up with the Lakers as a free agent after the 2018 NBA season — that is if George is not traded to a championship caliber team and the All-Star and former Olympian realizes that winning is more palatable than playing for his dream team.
As proof of the brilliance of Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, the recent trade has opened up the opportunity to chase high-profile free agents in the summer of 2018.
Mozgov still has three years and $48 million remaining on his contract while Lopez is playing on an expiring contract worth $22.6 million. That gives the Lakers plenty of cap space to sign two max players such as Paul George and LeBron James, as Forbes pointed out. If Johnson finds a way to ditch Luol Deng’s ugly contract, the Lakers will have even more cap for another big time player.
LeBron has been rumored to be considering a move to California after his contract with the Cavaliers expires. LeBron owns a home in Los Angeles, and his wife has apparently expressed her desire to live in the Lakers hometown. Furthermore, James was slighted when Cavs owner Dan Gilbert let go of GM David Griffin whom LeBron has a close relationship with. Add all these to the disappointment of the recently concluded NBA Finals, and James just might decide to bolt for the Lakers.
Aside from George and LeBron, Magic and the Lakers can also set their sights on Russell Westbrook, if he doesn’t re-up with Oklahoma City this summer, and DeMarcus Cousins, who is reportedly eyeing the Lakers according to his agent Jarrinn Akana.
All things considered, Magic can end up building a Lakers starting five made up of Lonzo and Ingram at guard, Cousins at the middle, and LeBron and George at the forward slots.
[Featured Image by Darron Cummings/AP Images]