Since Kobe Bryant retired, the Los Angeles Lakers have been aggressively looking for a legitimate superstar who can help bring the team back to title contention. Under Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers failed to acquire their target superstars and even made some bad signings during free agency. However, things were expected to be different when Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka assumed their front office roles.
Since joining the Lakers, Johnson and Pelinka have vowed not to make the same mistake the former executives did, and pledged to make the team an attractive destination for incoming free agents. As of now, the Lakers are in a strong position to sign two maximum-salaried players in the upcoming free agency period, with LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder as their top targets.
In an appearance on ESPN, Rob Pelinka revealed that Lakers legend Kobe Bryant gave him important advice since becoming the team’s new general manager, as reported by Lakers Nation. Bryant reportedly told Pelinka to be patient and follow the Golden State Warriors’ rebuilding process.
“It’s hard, but it’s natural. My first day on the job, Kobe called me and said, ‘Here’s your biggest challenge, Rob. Be patient.’ Look at the great teams. Look up north of us, the team that’s playing Houston right now. They drafted well, they were patient. They had opportunities to move some of the pieces on their rookie contracts for made-now stars, and they didn’t. It’s led to what they have, so that’s a great pathway, and patience is essential to that.”
SLAM! Kobe Bryant SLAMS LeBron James ‘supporting cast’ criticisms https://t.co/ZQTYqkB8TD
— Slammin' Sammy's Archive of Slams (@ArchiveofSlams) June 8, 2018
Rob Pelinka admitted that following the advice of Kobe Bryant is hard, especially with the salary cap space the Lakers could create this summer. Even if they fail to acquire LeBron James and Paul George in the upcoming offseason, the Lakers revealed their plan to preserve their salary cap space for the summer of 2019, which will feature several superstar free agents like Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard.
However, Bryant’s advice is something that the Lakers should strongly consider if they really want to become a successful team like the Warriors. Golden State didn’t build a title-contending team just by signing multiple superstars on the free agent market. Most of their core players, like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, were products of careful scouting and drafting.
The Lakers currently have a plethora of young and talented players, like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. Most of them have shown their potential to become superstars in the league. If the Lakers decide to continue developing their young core instead of sacrificing them for short-term success, it will not be a surprise if the purple-and-gold follow the footsteps of the Warriors in the next couple of years.