For as much optimism as the young core of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle generated this season, much of the talk involving the Los Angeles Lakers is centered around this summer’s free agency.
One of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA is the Lakers’ hope to sign at least one of LeBron James, Paul George, or another star of their ilk. Despite that, head coach Luke Walton has kept his and the team’s focus on the court.
Injuries prevented the Lakers from enjoying a strong close to the season, but the 2017-18 campaign otherwise can be considered a success. But even with that and the development of their young players, Walton on multiple occasions made note of the team lacking a definitive closer.
He once championed Ingram as evolving into that role, and more recently said Kuzma possessed the mindset and skill to fill it, but Walton insisted on not forcing that title on any of his players. Signing a superstar free agent would, of course, give the Lakers a clear-cut option they’ve lacked since Kobe Bryant retired.
However, that’s not something Walton is concerned about. “We’ll get one of those guys (a closer),” he said. “I’m not worried about the offseason at all, because we’ve got a great team here. We’ve got a very good young core that keeps working. Whether we get [free agents] or not, in the future we’re going to be fine.
“We’re going to have multiple players that hit those type of shots down the road. It just takes time to develop that, learn where you get those shots off and the confidence to do it at this level. Whether that’s from within or outside, we’ll have it in the future.”
For as much as president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have a desire to make a splash in free agency, they’ve maintained this summer is not all-or-nothing. The Lakers could re-sign Randle, for instance, and preserve cap space for 2019 free agents or possible trades.