Jeanie Marie Buss, the controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, made some major moves this off-season; with the Lakers finishing second-to-last in the Western Conference with a 26-56 record and the front office missing out on some key transactions (rumors has it that they would’ve had DeMarcus Cousins in a trade with the Sacramento Kings), Ms. Buss made a tough decision and terminated Mitch Kupchak as General Manager and accepted the resignation of her brother Jim as VP of Basketball Operations in February, and installed Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson as President of Basketball Operations. In turn, Buss and Johnson hired former sports agent Rob Pelinka as GM.
Since the front office transformation, the Lakers have made some quality moves to make their roster better. Most recently was the big trade that moved point guard D’Angelo Russell – the second overall pick in the 2015 draft – and high-priced center Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for big man Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick of last week NBA Draft. Moving Mozgov’s long-term contract for Lopez’s expiring deal – Pelinka made some cap space and is focused on adding two max free agents in the summer of 2018.
The Lakers’ plan to sign Indiana Pacers Paul George in 2018 and another big name free agent to go along with this year’s No. 2 overall draft pick and hometown kid Lonzo Ball. Ball was drafted to help up-and-coming head coach Luke Walton enhance the Lakers’ young nucleus of Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance, Jr., and Julius Randle.
Just recently, Lonzo Ball’s boisterous father, LaVar Ball, made a bold proclamation (when doesn’t he open his mouth to make these statements) that his son would lead the Lakers to the playoffs during his first year witht he team, but the oddsmakers in Las Vegas seem to think otherwise.
While Lonzo Ball is already considered the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year, will he make his teammates play better to see a +20-win improvement in order to make the 2017-18 playoffs?
It’s a very long shot, but anything can happen from now until the beginning of the season. Even though the Lakers know PG-13 wants to come to LA, it might be in their best interest to speed up the process and go after George now in a trade to improve their chances dramatically.
If Magic Johnson and the Lakers front office keep making quality moves that will improve the roster, Las Vegas might have to go back and change those odds for the better. We will have to wait and see.