Since the conclusion of the 2018-19 NBA season ended, the Los Angeles Lakers have made two significant moves to change the landscape of the league moving forward.
Just two days after the 2019 NBA Finals, the Lakers traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and multiple draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis.
While the Lakers finally landed a second All-Star player alongside LeBron James, they were heavily criticized for potentially overlooking the July 6 date, which would impact their cap space. However, they eventually found a way.
With a max-contract slot available now, Kyrie Irving reportedly ‘remains as much a target’ for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard, according to Marc Stein of New York Times:
Kyrie Irving remains as much a target for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard, league sources say, now that the Lakers are sure they can open maximum cap space. They are swinging for the fences despite all of the signals that have pointed Irving to Brooklyn …
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 28, 2019
Although Irving has been consistently linked to the Brooklyn Nets for the past month, he reportedly has wanted to play with Davis, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic:
Whether it’s Kemba Walker, whom the New York Times’ Marc Stein reported as a potential Lakers target, or Kyrie Irving, whom sources have maintained for months wants to play with Davis, someone dynamic will likely be on the ball next season in L.A.
As the Lakers went from $23.7 to $32.5 million heading into June 30, this was a significant move regardless if they ultimately land a third All-Star player or not. At the very least, the $8.8 million is a third role player instead of just two.
With this latest move, it has certainly changed the dynamic. As Kawhi Leonard reportedly ‘intends to grant’ the Lakers a meeting, Klay Thompson will listen to them if the Golden State Warriors do not immediately offer him a max deal.
Considering all the criticism general manager Rob Pelinka has received since former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson resigned, he deserves credit for navigating through all of it. However, the job is not done yet.
After Year 1 with James and surrounding him with ‘tough-minded’ playmakers, it appears they understand he needs three-point shooters and rim protectors. As a result, they have already been linked to these type of players.