The front office regime of the Los Angeles Lakers have made it clear they won’t be big players in free agency this summer. Both Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have spoken about the summer of 2018 being their goal and they want to preserve salary cap space for that time.
Of course the Lakers have had salary cap space and chased big stars in free agency in recent years, only to come up empty-handed. The Lakers believe there will be some differences this time.
Pelinka spoke to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell and noted that, first and foremost, the Lakers do have to build their young core:
“We have a great young core, and we know we have to grow it. If you look at the championship teams like Golden State, of course they grew their young core before they got into the championship conversation. They grew Steph (Curry), Draymond (Green), Klay (Thompson). That’s the embryonic stage of growth we’re in.”
Aside from developing the players, however, Pelinka went in depth about the need of the Lakers to establish their culture:
“But the other thing that’s so important that Magic and I and Luke and Jeanie (Buss) are working on daily is establishing Laker excellence. You can’t go into free agency in 2018 and sell a story that doesn’t reflect who you are. So every day, we’re internally focused on excellence and our plan of nutritionist, strength trainers, analytics and everything across the board. That way when you sit down in front of a free agent and you have a story and an identity to sell, it’s genuine, it’s real. You can feel it.”
When the Lakers were going after the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge, there was no real plan for the future ahead. With no young talent on the roster, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss tried to sell players on the Lakers brand and everything else they could accomplish by being in L.A.
That shouldn’t be a problem by 2018 as the young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle and others is a great starting point. If players get the sense that the Lakers are building something special, it could only be a matter of time before someone agrees to come on board.