The last few NBA offseasons the Los Angeles Lakers have struck out on big-name free agents like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and LaMarcus Aldridge, among others.
They also failed to draw in other All-Star caliber free agents they targeted like Hassan Whiteside and Chandler Parsons, so it became clear that Los Angeles was no longer a destination that free agents targeted.
A lot has changed in the first month of this season though, as the Lakers young nucleus has played well under first-year head coach Luke Walton, as the Lakers are the surprise of the NBA.
If this continues, Los Angeles will become increasingly more appealing to young free agents. In a recent interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Walton talked about the importance of continuing to build up the organization and atmosphere in Los Angeles so it becomes a place that free agents desire to come to:
“My number one job here is coaching the players that we have and getting a system in place and developing the young talent that we have. Those are all the things that take priority, but at the same time we want to set a tone and play with a style and play with an effort that draws people to L.A. and gets the fans engaged in the game so when these superstars come in to play they see it. They say ‘that looks like a lot of fun to be a part of, I want to be a part of that again.’ And down the road when free agency comes hopefully we’re back on the map with where the top level players want to be at.”
While it was tough for general manager Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers front office to rebuild through free agency, they did an excellent job of rebuilding through the NBA Draft as three straight lottery picks landed the Lakers Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram in consecutive years.
The Lakers have also picked well at the back end of the draft, selecting Larry Nance Jr. at the end of the first round and Jordan Clarkson and Ivica Zubac in the second round.
The Lakers currently are ninth in the Western Conference at 10-14, as injuries have played a part in them losing four straight. If they could compete for the final playoff spot all season, then they could be in the running for the big-name free agents in the upcoming offseason like Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Jrue Holiday to name a few.