The Los Angeles Lakers are rumored to be skipping the re-building phase, following up a historically bad season by potentially flipping their top draft pick and making a run at some established stars who would turn the team into an immediate playoff contender.
The departure of Kobe Bryant has left a void on the Lakers roster that the team will need to address this offseason. Although Kobe’s role on the team had been steadily diminishing in the past few years as his skills declined and injuries cut short three of his final four seasons, he held an important leadership role as well as a star factor that is almost a necessity for a team playing in Hollywood.
There are rumors that the Los Angeles Lakers are in search of a new star who will be able to shape young talent like D’Angelo Russell while bringing the team back to playoff contention. The team has already taken the first step, luring Luke Walton away from the Golden State Warriors to serve as their next head coach. Walton led the Warriors to a torrid start to the season in relief of the recovering Steve Kerr and is seen as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the NBA.
The next step could be landing a superstar, and Lakers legend Magic Johnson has two players in mind — LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
As the Washington Post notes, Johnson himself could take a role in wooing both players to Los Angeles, and the team itself would certainly have the room to make one of the deals work.
“The Lakers are set to have over $60 million in salary-cap space this offseason, so they figure to be very active in free agency. Meanwhile, Durant will be an unrestricted free agent and James is expected to attain the same status after opting out of his contract with the Cavaliers, so either or even both, in theory, could wind up in Los Angeles next season.”
The Lakers may have yet another asset to help with the immediate turnaround — this year’s top draft pick. The team holds the top chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s NBA Draft, and if their ball is selected as the top pick, there are growing rumors that the Lakers don’t intend to use it. Drew Garrison of SB Nation’s Silver Screen and Roll reported that the Lakers want to trade that top pick for an established star.
Fox Sports radio host Colin Cowherd reported the same, saying the Los Angeles Lakers are already planning to reach out to teams that may want the top overall pick.
“I’ve now been told by two separate sources, even if the Lakers get the No. 1 pick, they’re trading it,” Cowherd said on The Herd. “They don’t want to rebuild anymore. They want to get a star NBA player. They will call teams if they get the No. 1 pick and shop it around the league.”
But even though the Los Angeles Lakers hold a 55 percent chance of landing one of this year’s top three picks, there is still a chance that they end up out of the lottery entirely if if falls outside the top three and their pick goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving them to reload the team through free agency alone. And there is also the chance that Luke Walton may be looking for a more long-term rebuild, taking either LSU’s Ben Simmons or the Duke’s Brandon Ingram if the team lands the top overall pick.
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