In the time leading up to 2018 NBA free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers front office touted a plan that entailed pursuing two max-level players. LeBron James and Paul George were believed to be at the top of their wish list.
While the Lakers managed to sign James to a four-year contract, George immediately made it clear he would re-sign with Oklahoma City. Perhaps sensing George would not return to his Southern California roots, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson began to stress a two-year window for the team.
And after signing James, it’s exactly how the Lakers conducted the rest of their business. While Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson were new additions, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was re-signed, each received a one-year contract.
Those type of deals give the Lakers plenty of flexibility over the next year, particularly for 2019 free agency, when they can sign another player to a max contract.
While the depth would appear to be there, Ray Allen questioned the strength of the Lakers roster and the franchise’s direction and goal, during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show:”
“They could use a lot. They could use a lot. … It’ll be interesting. Just looking at their roster, I’m curious to see how they build their roster. Do they build it to contend with Golden State or did they build it to make the playoffs? Did they build it to compete or are they building it for the future?”
While James doesn’t have an All-Star teammate for the first time since his early days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’s bullish on the group the Lakers have put around him. With that, James hardly views the 2018 season as any sort of rebuilding or wasted year of his prime.
Similarly, Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have both stressed the Lakers are focused on competing for a championship this season. They’ve also explained the roster was constructed with a defensive-minded approach rather than simply surrounding James with shooters, like Allen was during their time together on the Miami Heat.