Here’s What the Lakers Should Do This Offseason

Two theories about how this year’s mega-offseason might play out

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Last summer when LeBron signed the longest contract of his career to join the raw but spry Lakers' roster, it was implied that the team would need to be aggressive during the 2019 offseason. Many expected the Lakers to compete for the playoffs—some even expected a title—but despite the obvious potential of their young core, it was clear that more experienced reinforcements would need to be signed to match the expectations that come with a LeBron-led team.

It is still apparent—even more so than before—that the Lakers need to bolster their roster. But after the dispiriting regular season, the ease of that happening and the guarantee of success are now much cloudier.

Will the Lakers even be able to land one of the prized free agents from the loaded 2019 class, or was their mid-season drama too unsettling? Will Boston be able to overmatch their offer for Anthony Davis? And the elephant in the room: Are the Lakers better off betting on their young core than on a 34-year-old LeBron who was incapable of even contending for a playoff spot?

LeBron has a history of arriving in a new city and influencing the front office to use its resources to commit to the “right now”(see Andrew Wiggins), only to expose the franchise once he leaves. In the past, this overextension could be justified by the automatic ticket to the finals that LeBron once was, but sadly it’s now clear that is not the case. This is the mistake that the Lakers cannot make. If they do not want to end up in the NBA’s mediocrity purgatory like Cleveland or Miami—or even the post– Dwight and Nash Lakers—they must improve their roster without sacrificing assets. Yes, this even includes trading for Anthony Davis.

Option 1: Sign Talent in Free Agency for the Right Price

It really shouldn’t be that hard of a sell for the Lakers to restrain themselves from blowing up their roster for Anthony Davis knowing all the available talent this summer. And if they do opt to improve via free agency, they’ll still be safeguarded by their young core, meaning they can pursue free agents currently in their prime without narrowing their team’s window to contend. KD, Kawhi, Kyrie, Klay and Kristaps are all worth shelling out top dollar for, but the key here is not to panic and overextend for someone who may not deserve a max deal as consolation for not landing one of the guys at the top.

After that, it’s about finding players who fit. You could make the case for Kemba Walker deserving the max, but not when the Lakers are already trying to develop Lonzo, who plays the same position. Where the Lakers need help is perimeter shooting and in the frontcourt. Boogie Cousins, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic and JJ Redick would all be deserving of their quota because they would cover weaknesses in the Lakers roster.

Option 2: Trade LeBron

During a broadcast last week, Jeff Van Gundy mentioned that the Lakers should consider trading LeBron and it nearly set Twitter ablaze. It was frequently taken out of context, however. JVG only said that the Lakers should think about trading him, not that they should trade him.

I, however, think that if the price is right, [coach to be named later] should drive him to the airport! Let me clarify that this is less of an attack on the king and more of a defense that every player has their price and the fact that LeBron is 34 years old.

Obviously, the price needs to be high—if the Wolves offer Andrew Wiggins and a couple of first rounders, there’s no need to entertain. But if Danny Ainge comes knocking with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and the Kings first rounder, the Lakers would be foolish not to accept.

The reality is that the Lakers didn’t even compete for the playoffs this year, and unless they land a top-tier free agent, they risk hovering around the bottom tier of the Western Conference playoff teams while their best asset depreciates—or worse, falling prey to the same manipulation that buried the Cavaliers both times their king left them.

Respect to LeBron, but JVG has a point: Every player has their price. And Kyle Kuzma seems to agree...

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