The NBA All-Star Game wrapped up in Los Angeles Sunday, and the event was the first time since Denver in 2005 that the host city didn’t have an All-Star. That fact was made all the more surprising given that L.A. has two NBA teams, the Lakers and the Clippers, a reality that didn’t go unnoticed by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
“That was odd. That was odd,” Durant said after helping Team LeBron to a comeback victory at Staples Center. “But I was talking to Kemba (Walker) and I told him next year it’s going to be in his hometown so he’s got to make it.
“Usually when you’ve got a guy playing in their city, everybody kind of rallies around him and supports him. It was different not having a Laker or a Clipper here.”
The Lakers and Clippers are hoping to change that as soon as next year. Both teams are going to have gobs of cap space this summer, and will be undertaking a spirited battle away from the court to try and lure All-Star free agents like LeBron James (who owns residences in the city) and Southern California native Paul George to come home in July.
James called Los Angeles a “perfect” host to the All-Star Game, while George said he loved playing there. But it remains to be seen whether either loves the city enough to take their talents there more permanently, or which team they’d want to join if they did.
The Clippers have a better record this year, but the Lakers’ young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart would appear to give them the more sustainable strategy for success moving forward. Although, that reality isn’t always something veteran free agents who want to win right away are going to factor in to their decisions.
If neither team can lure players like that, it’s unclear when either will next boast an All-Star. The Clippers have traded away perennial All-Star candidates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and while Lou Williams received fringe consideration this season, it’s unlikely he’ll do that much longer at age 31.
Meanwhile, the Lakers’ young core is promising, but players generally don’t start making the All-Star Game until they’re a few years into the league. Ball, Kuzma and Ingram all need seasoning before they start to get serious All-Star buzz outside of the fan vote.
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