Welcome to Lakers Lair Three-Man Weave, a subjective Lakers-related column where our resident Laker fans answer a series of questions regarding the Purple & Gold. This week’s edition features inquiries about the Lakers’ future and their newly minted front office. The week’s participants are…
1. How confident are you in the managerial abilities of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka?
Cortes: At first, the thought of Magic Johnson running the Lakers got me worried about the future of the franchise up until his first interview as President of Basketball Operations. The reason why Magic Johnson running the show worried me was because it seemed like he was going to try to get better ASAP without having to do so. Then his confidence in the young core absolved any issue. I now feel confident in his abilities to run the show as he knows what it takes. As for Rob Pelinka, I too, am confident in his abilities. It sucks to see Mitch Kupchak go, but Rob Pelinka isn’t a bad replacement as he knows the player market more than anyone else. Given that he was a former agent, recruiting players to play for the Lakers should be easier.
Boyer: Very. The Lakers have struggled to reel in big fish free agents over the past several seasons, and that’s something the franchise has always prided themselves on being able to do. When they attempted to court LaMarcus Aldridge in the summer of 2015 they needed two meetings because the initial one went sour. It seems as if the Lakers’ luster had been to reduced to a dullness that fans are unfamiliar with and now Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will be tasked with re-introducing that sheen to Los Angeles’ most prosperous franchise. With former clients such as Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Eric Gordon and Chris Bosh, Pelinka is respected in NBA circles and can be vouched for and Magic is uh… Magic. He has an aura about him that cannot be denied. Pepper in a possible Bryant appearance in any free agent conference, and the Lakers suddenly have loads of credibility and 10 rings in front of players they may be meeting with. People like to undermine the impact of “RINGZZZ” but to NBA players with the desire to be great, that stuff matters. Something tells me they won’t be needing second gatherings with free agents going forward.
Allen: I’m not sure, to be honest. Neither Johnson or Pelinka have proven themselves as a quality front office employee so I’m not sure what to expect. Magic had his stint as a head coach which didn’t go well, so I’m hoping his tenure as a part of upper management goes better. I’m just hoping for the best at this point.
2. Do you think Kobe Bryant will be working for the Lakers in some capacity before the start of next season?
Cortes: Yes. Whether it be an office role or a player development role, Kobe could possibly be working for the Lakers again. Given that Rob Pelinka, who happens to be Kobe’s long-time agent, is now the GM of the Lakers, there’s too many ties to Kobe Bryant himself and that would be enough for him to work for the Los Angeles Lakers again.
Boyer: I believe so, but I’d like to see Kobe work WITH the Lakers’ young players more than anything. Brandon Ingram plucking Bryant’s basketball brain would be beautiful, and mimicking Kobe’s on-court maneuvers would only add to the unique offensive arsenal the 19-year-old Ingram possesses. Bryant was a hoops technician, mastering in footwork, space-creation and tough-shot making. With the belief that Ingram can be groomed into a big-time scorer, he’ll need to excel at all three, especially the first two. What better player to learn those from than Bryant, who happens to take residence in the same place in which Ingram is employed.
Allen: I don’t think Kobe will accept anything official, but I do believe he will help out a lot behind the scenes. He was very adamant about starting his production career which he has initiated so I don’t think anything official with the Lakers will go into effect. However, I do think he will help out behind the scenes. Hopefully something that deals with player development and helping out all of this young talent that the Lakers have.
3. Will the Lakers be a playoff team with homecourt advantage within the next two years?
Cortes: Yes. With new people in charge and their young talent trending up, the Lakers can find themselves back where they were not too long ago. Of course its going to take more than their young talent to play well, so adding extra firepower would certainly help. With Paul George reportedly looking to join LA once he hits free agency, the Lakers can build the right team in order to contend for the playoffs.
Boyer: Tough. Let’s examine this from a Conference-wide standpoint real quick.
Golden State, Houston and San Antonio should all still be top-four Western Conference teams in 2019, leaving one spot for the remainder of the teams in the West to scrap for. Utah and Oklahoma City should still be in the mix, and they’ll be trying to fend off the likes of Minnesota, Denver and the Lakers if all three of those teams hit their expected trajectories. Not accounting for the other talented teams in the West, I’m going to have to say no. Obviously there will be major roster shifting between now and 2019, but Los Angeles is currently the worst team in the conference, and to make that kind of leap from with no clear-cut star is grueling. I think they’ll be at the doorstep, but there’s a 70% chance someone doesn’t answer when the bell rings.
Allen: No. Two years? I don’t see it happening but I do believe we will crack the playoffs in two years. Maybe in about the third year with all the right moves, in addition to signing Paul George, the Lakers will have home court advantage in the playoffs.
4. True or False: The Lakers will finish this season as the worst team in the West.
Cortes: True. The Lakers seem to be in full-tank mode as of now, trading their most consistent player in Lou Williams. They seem to be focused on developing their young core and rightfully so. Since their pick is only top-three protected, the Lakers have to put themselves in a position where they have the best odds to keep their pick in a very deep draft.
Boyer: True. Los Angeles has espoused the method of tanking in hopes of retaining their draft pick, which will be conveyed to the Sixers if it’s outside of the top-three. They’ve been playing some of the ugliest basketball in the league since the All-Star break, and Luke Walton is tinkering with lineups and shutting down the veterans to see what the younger guys are truly capable of. Los Angeles hasn’t looked interested in winning basketball games in a while, and we all recognize what the reason for that is.
Allen: 100% true! The Lakers currently hold that spot and with the motive of not losing their draft pick, they are all about experimenting at this point. Experimenting so much that Jordan Clarkson and David Nwaba started over D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young in the past couple of games. They’ve fully accepted tanking and have given up on this season.
5. True or False: The Lakers will make a blockbuster trade within the next six months.
Cortes: Nope. It doesn’t seem like Magic and Pelinka are rushing to be good immediately. If they were, they would’ve started swinging trades for DeMarcus Cousins or Paul George at the recent trade deadline. The Lakers seem to be putting themselves in a position where they can make those kinds of moves. With players like George and Cousins hitting free agency after next season, the Lakers have time to develop their current players and make their team an attractive destination.
Boyer: False… I hope. Laker fans are entranced with the prospect of a Paul George or Jimmy Butler donning the Purple & Gold, but don’t mortgage the future for a guy like George, who is reportedly determined to make his way to Los Angeles via free agency in 2018. I’m a believer in the practice of patience, and I don’t want to punch the evaluative clock on this young core just yet. They must be given the appropriate amount of time to be assessed.
Allen: I don’t see any blockbuster trades happening anytime soon. Hopefully, they trade Mozgov and Deng to get rid of those contracts but outside of that, I don’t see any trades happening. But at the same time, it all depends on how patient Magic Johnson and company decide to be. If they’re not ready to wait on the development of the young players and want to win now, then we may see something occur soon.