Los Angeles Lakers 2016-17 Season: 26-56 (14th in the West)
Additions: Lonzo Ball (draft), Kyle Kuzma (draft), Josh Hart (draft), Thomas Bryant (draft), Brook Lopez (trade), Tyler Ennis (re-signed free agent), Kentavious Cladwell-Pope (free agent), Alex Caruso (two-way free agent), Vander Blue (free agent), Stephen Zimmerman (free agent), V.J Beachem (free agent) , Briante Weber (free agent)
Subtractions: D’Angelo Russell (trade), Timofey Mozgov (trade), Tarik Black (free agent), Nick Young (free agent), David Nwaba (free agent)
No team has visisted the NBA finals as often as the Lakers. Unfortunately, the last few years have been horrendous. The franchise entered rebuilding mode. Following a decision by the owners, Magic Johnson replaced Jim Buss as the Head of Basketball Operations. Kobe Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka came in as the new General Manager. They have worked energetically in making the Lakers a younger and more competitive team.
The Lakers have some promising talent now. Their biggest acquisition was drafting Lonzo Ball with the 2nd overall pick. Kyle Kuzma the 27th overall pick is their next big draft pick. Through a draft day trade, Lakers acquired Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant. They made two major additions. To acquire Brook Lopez and the Net’s first round pick, The Lakers sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. Lopez is one of the best big men in the league, having established himself as a scoring threat and a stretch big-man. Getting rid of Mozgov and his big contract was a shrewd move. While Russell’s inclusion was needed to sweeten the deal, it works. Ball is the new point guard, and Russell had a mentality that did not mesh with the new Lakers. The next major addition was Kentavious Cladwell-Pope, a shoot first shooting guard. He has been a reliable shooter over the last couple of seasons. Giving him a 1-year $18 million deal. He will be a good short term fit for the Lakers . They plan to make one-two major free agent acquisitions.
Lakers made two mistakes last season. Mozgov and Luol Deng received large contracts. Their numbers did not match the money they made. They got rid of Mozgov’s contract but not Deng. He will earn $18 million for each of the next 3 seasons. No team would be willing to take his contract on their payroll. Unfortunately for the team, the Western conference is more competitive this season. The young Lakers, who have not had significant playing time together, may not be able to hold their ground against the top Western Conference teams.
Lakers are taking the steps in the right direction. The summer league showed the talents of Kuzma and Ball. The two of the them can forge a strong partnership. The Lakers got rid of players not performing for the team and made smart acquisitions. This season will be about getting the foundations of the team right, so that they can make a deep-playoff run from 2018-19.