The Los Angeles Lakers could very well be the next super team in the NBA as early as 2017. Before you start to dismiss my claim, take a moment and look around the NBA, then look at the Lakers. Yes, they have struck out in free agency the last few years, missed out on the playoffs and watched as the greatest Laker retired, but there is still hope for this proud franchise.
But how can they be a super team with an unproven roster?
Easy, the Lakers will have funds available to the tune of $30M+ but they have player options with Larry Nance, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. This is where the treading of the water must be done. Each player is a vital part of the Lakers future and to pick up that option the Lakers are saying as much BUT they will want to be paid like a vital part as well which will cut into that cap space. What the Lakers could do is accept the option then resign them so it will count against the 2018 cap but that’s also taking a gamble. If the players are dedicated to staying then this could go smoothly.
Here is how the Lakers can begin their next Dynasty run. You have 4 young players that will help lead the new wave of Lakers titles but there are other options that can be taken. Depending on their record the Lakers may be headed towards the NBA Lottery again in 2017. If they manage to snag a top 5 pick they have a chance to do something big here. The Lakers could either trade the pick for much-needed veteran presence, select a top-level player and continue the youth movement (possibly a Center), or keep the pick, then package him later.
It may not seem like it now but the Lakers have talent, so much so that their top pick Brandon Ingram will come off the bench. How many times have you seen that in the last few years, a top 3 pick reserved to 6th or 7th man duties? But this is where the Lakers are at now. The more you look at the roster the more you begin to see how they could become the next super team.
The Lakers have a big decision to make in 2018 regarding two players, Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng. Both players came over in free agency in 2016 but by the end of next season either one or both could be gone. If the Lakers are serious about becoming a Dynasty they must get rid of them. Ingram is not made for the bench and Clarkson is a starter at the SG spot. Ingram must be in the lineup, meaning Deng must be moved. There is a title contender that should be willing to pick up his contract for that extra push come the trade deadline. Mozgov may be a keeper for his defense and rebounding, will help take the pressure off Randle in the post.
But here is where its gets interesting. If the Lakers can get the young guys to agree to their opt-in and move Deng that $30M now becomes slightly higher giving the Lakers a real shot at possibly 2 high-profile free agents in 2017. Kevin Durant has an option and by the looks of it the Golden State Warriors may not be able to keep both he and Stephen Curry past 2017, one has to go. The Lakers could be his next destination, especially if they show improvements this year. Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert, Mason Plumlee, Nerlens Noel and Blake Griffin will all be available, and the best part is the Lakers will not be forced to give away any young talent.
Not every player will fit but the possibilities the Lakers have are endless. They have a core four already in place, if they can manage to get rid of Deng, get another top 5 pick, plus the cap space they will have, the Lakers could easily be in title contention for 2018. Can you imagine the Lakers possibly getting a top 5 pick, a player of value for Deng, signing Durant and Gobert to pair with Russell, Clarkson, Ingram and Randle?
This is not me selling you a pipe dream, this is a reality, they will have the money, they already have the young core, they have the new coach, the fan base and depending on their record they may have a valuable trade piece to pair with Deng/Mozgov in a package. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.