In February 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers made a tough decision, firing Mitch Kupchak as general manager and removing Jim Buss as vice president of basketball operations. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss then hired Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as general manager. Since assuming front office roles, Johnson and Pelinka revealed their ambitious goal to make the Lakers an attractive destination for superstars once again.
They made their first move by creating salary cap space for two maximum-salaried players, and in the recent free agency, the Lakers succeeded to acquire LeBron James. As of now, there is no doubt that Jeanie Buss made the right decision to make a huge change in their organization.
However, according to Sam Amick of the Athletic (h/t Bleacher Report), Kobe Bryant played a major role on the Lakers’ successful acquisition of LeBron James. In an interview with the Athletic, Bryant revealed the advice he gave to Buss in order to make the franchise great again.
“Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this s–t going on. It’s not going to happen. So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew. You have the new practice facility (the UCLA Health Training Center) that we’re just moving into (in the summer of 2017). We’ve got new management, and off we go. But that player is not coming here unless you do that.”
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So far, the Lakers seem to be heading in the right direction. After acquiring LeBron James, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka made it clear that they are not done yet in upgrading their roster. In the recent free agency, they purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019.
The 2019 free agency will be loaded with several NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, DeAndre Jordan, Kyrie Irving, and DeMarcus Cousins. Aside from having the money to spend for a maximum free agent, the Lakers also have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster trade.
As of now, the Lakers first want to see how their young core will perform alongside LeBron James in the 2018-19 NBA season. If they struggle earlier, expect the Lakers to make a big move before the February NBA trade deadline.