With a nine-win improvement and young core to build on, the Los Angeles Lakers are entering arguably their most important offseason in recent memory. It will begin with the 2018 NBA Draft, in which they hold the No. 25 (first round) and No. 47 (second round) picks.
The Lakers’ lottery pick was owed to either the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers, and it wound up falling into the hands of the latter at 10th overall. After the draft, free agency will take center stage.
The Lakers have more salary cap space available than any team, and they’re expected to pursue the likes of LeBron James and Paul George. Meanwhile, internally, a bar has been set for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and others.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka presented the youngsters with lookbooks that contained images of Kobe Bryant and other All-Stars. The message was clear: spend the summer in the gym as a means of improving.
In some cases, particularly with Hart and Kuzma, those workouts have taken place inside the Lakers’ UCLA Health Training Center and been recorded by media. Though he’s been in the shadow, Kuzma insisted Ball was taking his workout regimen more seriously.
Hart treated fans to a glimpse of Ball working out at the team’s practice facility, though mainly to rib the rookie point guard for listening to his own mixtape while doing so. Meanwhile, Randle’s trainer, Amoila Cesar, had his fun at the expense of the athletic forward.
While much of the Lakers young core remains under contract, Randle is someone to watch. He’s due to become a restricted free agent on July 1, and his future is largely believed to be dependent on how the Lakers fare in convincing a superstar free agent — or two — to sign.
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