After failing to acquire another superstar this offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to fill their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019. The 2019 NBA free agency class will be loaded with numerous NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, and DeMarcus Cousins. However, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are not expected to sit back and relax if they see their team struggle during the 2018-19 NBA season.
As most people think, LeBron James didn’t join the Lakers to wait for another year to contend for the NBA championship title. According to John Gonzales of The Ringer, James’ previous teams, the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, had a history of making multiple roster moves, especially if they didn’t see all the pieces working well around LeBron. Gonzales believes the Lakers may consider continuing the tradition before the February NBA trade deadline.
“If the Lakers continue that tradition, they’re set up pretty well to tinker. They don’t have any extra incoming picks, but the only outgoing selection is a 2019 second-rounder. Beyond that, they have some nice young pieces for potential trade offers. Ball, Kuzma, and Hart are all on rookie contracts. So is Brandon Ingram, easily the most attractive asset the Lakers could offer to pry away a second star to pair with James.”
The Lakers have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster trade. Of all their young players, Brandon Ingram proved to be the most attractive trade asset. In his sophomore year in the NBA, the 20-year-old small forward has shown massive improvement in his game, averaging 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on 47 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. Including him in any trade package will increase the Lakers’ chance of acquiring their second superstar in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season.
As The Ringer noted, the Lakers’ roster is built to be dismantled. The players they signed on a one-year contract — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley — could be used as salary cap fillers in a potential blockbuster trade. Acquiring at least two superstars is a must if the Lakers are serious about returning to the NBA Finals and hang another championship banner at Staples Center. However, as of now, the Lakers first want to see how their young core will perform playing alongside LeBron James.