Despite playing a week-long waiting game for Kawhi Leonard’s decision and losing, the Los Angeles Lakers still wound up with a deep and talented roster.
It’s even arguable that their roster wouldn’t have been any better if they decided against waiting for Leonard and started signing players at the start of free agency.
Perhaps the reason they got this type of success was because of the two players that already made up a huge foundation of the roster. Having LeBron James and Anthony Davis — along with Kyle Kuzma — almost instantly made the Lakers a premier free agency destination.
It’s now being reported that several players who accepted deals from the Lakers had competing offers from other teams around the league, but wound up choosing them, according to Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times:
“The Lakers got Anthony Davis. Sure, they had to remake their team and give up all but one of their young draft picks to get him, but if it works it will work big. And while their wait for Leonard might have lost them some players, they are now in a position where free agents want to be part of what they’ve built. Several players who signed with the Lakers had similar competing offers from other teams, but this was where they wanted to be.”
Having good role players pick the Lakers over other situations is a drastic departure from years past. In the non-playoff era from 2014-2018, it felt like nothing the Lakers did could buy them a good free agent. And even after James signed his deal, many other big-name free agents wouldn’t attach themselves to what the Lakers were building.
This change really provides perspective on the work general manager Rob Pelinka is doing, as well as hope for the future of this team that has had absolutely no success for the past six seasons.
Waiting a week into perhaps the most tumultuous free agency period of all time and still ending up with Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, and other solid players is a huge feat in and of itself. And it’s because of the work the Lakers did to get Davis and James together, making them appear to be a stable situation with extremely talented players on the court.
And with Leonard choosing the Los Angeles Clippers and bringing Paul George with him, the teams seem to be almost dead even — something that will bring a never before seen intrigue to Los Angeles sports.