The Los Angeles Lakers made a couple NBA trade deadline deals that left them without their leading scorer and top bench player in Lou Williams, but added players like Tyler Ennis and Corey Brewer, plus a first-round pick this June.
The Lakers also fired general manager Mitch Kupcheck, though they hired Magic Johnson as their President of Basketball Operations this week, hopefully a sign of better times to come for the Lakers.
With Johnson in charge of basketball operations, his first move with the Lakers was to trade with the Houston Rockets by dealing Williams for Brewer and a first-round draft choice. The Lakers also received the important first-round pick for the NBA Draft, which could become a difference maker down the line.
Maybe there is a possibility the Lakers use the first-round choice from the Rockets and turn that into a superstar-caliber player via trade with another NBA franchise this summer.
All of these changes show the Lakers are trying something different because what they had been doing wasn’t working at all. The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year and haven’t won’t a playoff game since the 2011-12 NBA Western Conference Semifinals, a series they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-1.
The last time the Lakers were in the playoffs was the 2012-13 season, being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in four straight. To put that into perspective, Lakers 19-year-old forward Brandon Ingram was 15-years-old the last time the Lakers won a playoff game.
The Lakers could add some quality NBA veterans to the roster and use them to build around the core they have now, especially around Ingram and D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers should also look to NBA free agency this offseason to add an above average to superstar caliber of player.
As for Russell, he is the new top scorer for the Lakers, averaging 14.2 points per game, while Nick Young follows with 13.8 and Jordan Clarkson with 13.7 ppg. Russell also leads the Lakers with 4.7 assists per game.
A very far possibility in free agency could be Golden State Warriors unrestricted free agent Kevin Durant, but that is very doubtful and more of a dream scenario than reality. A more realistic possibly is Magic Johnson can give a call to the Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird and work a deal for 2018 unrestricted free agent Paul George, as it is still unclear what the Pacers want to do with their roster. USA Today NBA Insider Sam Amick had this on Twitter about George and the Lakers.
I repeat: Paul George - barring a title chance in Indy - is hell-bent on heading for Laker Land. This message has been sent throughout NBA.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 23, 2017
Other unrestricted free agents this summer already reside in Los Angeles in Clippers players Blake Griffith and Chris Paul, as ESPN lists those two have what is described as an “early termination option.”
A lot can happen between now and the NBA Draft. Maybe the NBA Draft Lottery goes the favor of the Lakers and they gain the No. 1 overall pick because they could have one of the top chances in the lottery.
We all know the Lakers aren’t making any push for the playoffs this season, but the one hope for the Lakers now is the fact they are trying to build something new. It is all but a certainty the depth of the Lakers roster will have a whole new look next season, and that can be exciting for the Lakers fan base.
This offseason, the Lakers must bring in a high-caliber player to help this franchise get to the next level. If not, they will be in danger of continuing the current trend of staying at the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference, which is something the NBA and the Lakers themselves do not want to see.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]