One month later and Laker fans are saying the same thing, “This better work”.
It started off mid-season last year when Jeanie Buss fired her brother and Mitch Kupchak, for the glamorous Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. The 2nd half of the season gave fans reason to hope.
D’Angelo Russell made a game winner and scored 40 on the defending champs, Brandon Ingram put up new career highs on a nightly basis along with a poster dunk, Ivica Zubac showed flashes of potential to be the next Lakers center of the future, Jordan Clarkson looked prime to be the sixth man of the year, and the list goes on and on.
The offseason consisted of questions about Lonzo Ball and D’Angelo Russell’s fit and questions about whether or not Paul George would be a Laker. The season couldn’t start soon enough.
The only knock on Magic Johnson as the new president of basketball operations was could he be patient enough to let the young guys develop? He seems to love Brandon Ingram, as he has stated multiple times he is untouchable. D’Angelo Russell didn’t get much praise since the new regime came in.
On June 20, 2017, the Lakers future and plans changed drastically. No longer would the Lakers be developing young talent and turning into “the next Warriors”. Magic and Pelinka shipped D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and pick 27 in the draft.
D’Angelo was the first player to bring the Lakers out of the Kobe era. His “Ice in my veins” and flashy plays, brought Laker fans excitement. The front office didn’t think Russell was a good enough leader, so they shipped him off for an expiring deal above average center and a deep 1st rounder. Lakers Outsiders put it best, “He gave the Lakers Ice in His Veins and they responded with the cold shoulder.”
Mozgov was also traded and that part of the trade shows the Lakers new focus. Get stars to come back to La La Land. By getting rid of the god-awful Mozgov, the Lakers cleared up 56 million dollars in cap. They can now sign one and possibly two max deals in 2018. LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant didn’t make it clear enough. The Lakers don’t have the appeal they used to anymore. Yes, Paul George’s situation is different because he has publicly told the Lakers and Pacers he wants to go there. But is the Lebron scenario that much different?
These type of moves were the ones that us, as Laker fans, were worried about. Magic pulled the trigger on a two-year removed #2 overall pick, to HOPE that the Lakers can get Lebron. The new gameplan is sign stars, but let’s hope Magic and Pelinka have a different way of doing it than Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss. We know how that worked out.
This better work. Because if not, it could be a LONG process back to the top.