Since assuming front office roles, Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have revealed their ambitious plan to make the Purple and Gold an attractive destination for NBA superstars once again. By dumping Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets last summer, the Lakers were able to give a max contract to the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, in the recent free agency.
Days before the training camp starts, the Lakers also reached a buyout agreement with veteran small forward Luol Deng, who, like Timofey Mozgov, is considered one of the worst free agency acquisitions of the team. During their buyout negotiation, the Lakers also managed to convince Deng to leave $7.5 million on the table, adding to the list of achievements Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka did as NBA executives.
However, it seems like Lakers owner Jeanie Buss also played a major role in the team’s successful buyout agreement with Luol Deng. Per Lakers Nation, Rob Pelinka revealed how a message from Buss became the turning point of the negotiation.
“Jeanie and I and Magic were meeting the other day and she had a profound line about we always want to protect players’ rights in the league and we never want to be an organization that gets in the way of something a player wants. Just the way we had constructed and built things, it didn’t appear there was going to be a big path for Luol to explore his passions of playing. And he made it clear to us through his agent that he was hoping to move on. We were able to negotiate it in a way like you said it was a win-win.”
The recent actions by Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, and Jeanie Buss showed that the Lakers are currently in the right hands. Johnson and Pelinka have already fulfilled their promise to bring a legitimate NBA superstar to the Lakers, but they will not stop improving their roster until they hang another championship banner at Staples Center. By successfully getting rid of Luol Deng and his lucrative deal, the Lakers are in a strong position to create enough salary cap space to sign a max free agent next offseason.
The 2019 NBA free agency will feature several NBA superstars like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan. Pairing one of those players with LeBron James will increase the Lakers’ chance of beating powerhouse teams in the league, including the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors.