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Debate

Is Rob Pelinka playing it smart or just scared of another Westbrook-like disaster?

Many viewed Los Angeles as the major hub for stars in the coming offseason. Several links were made to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the Lakers. What ended up happening was that every high-profile star kept falling off the market and the Purple and Gold hadn’t moved an inch. Following James’ max extension, it shut the doors on the path of bringing a third star to the team. With their salary cap limitations, there is barely any wiggle room for Rob Pelinka to trigger any motion.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are planning on filling out their roster with minimum contracts while preserving their draft picks. There is a consensus within the Purple and Gold that a third pillar doesn’t suffice in the NBA. This misjudgment could influence their thought process in the matter of Russell Westbrook. Fear or not, they are prioritizing the right role player to augment their team’s chances next season. But they might very well wait till the trade deadline to make a move for their target: Jerami Grant.

“I think it is wise to explore. I do think one of the things we may see is the Lakers play this out till the trade deadline, like we saw with the Westbrook trade when they sent him out at the 2023 deadline. It kind of gives you a couple of months to figure out A, are we good enough to actually justify this or like is there not any real hope of us getting into the top four in the West… The other element in it is I do think you have a better idea at that point how much Dalton Knecht help us now? What’s Max Christie’s development this season?” ESPN’s Kevin Pelton reported on The Lowe Post.

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USA Today via Reuters

Poll of the day

Do you think the Lakers should trade their $160 million star before the deadline?

Yes, it's a must!

No, give him more time

Depends on the trade offer

Not sure

Grant has been a solid contributor since becoming an apex scorer with the Detroit Pistons three seasons ago. Since then, he has earned a five-year $160 million extension with the Trail Blazers. In order to take his salary, the Lakers will have to send out D’Angelo Russell’s $18.7 million clubbed with another player’s salary only to match the figures. Portland might very well ask for a pick at that point. However, if the Lakers’ development plans for rookies Bronny and Knecht work out and Max Christie successfully transitions to taking on a more significant role, there is a chance for the Lakers’ role with the same unit for the entire season.

It will all come down to the situation around the league and the Lakers’ position in the power order.

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The Lakers are an experiment next season

Despite the downfall of the franchise since the 2020 title, the Lakers don’t seem moved to make any major changes. There haven’t been many roster changes. The ones they did make never worked in their favor. So now there seems to be a new strategy in place, to see how they can develop with untested components.

From top to bottom, the Lakers will be experimenting with everything this season. JJ Redick has never coached a single NBA game in his life. He will be in charge of the team and has two rookies who could elevate the franchise nicely. Furthermore, Christie’s development is also carrying intrigue. So far he had only had a sporadic role within the rotations. Under Redick, his shooting game might be instrumental in his head coach’s plans and schemes.

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The downside though is what if it doesn’t work out? LeBron James is bound to stay till the end of next season, after which he could either retire or even move on to a more competing organization. If the darts don’t fall on target, it might dissuade Anthony Davis from wanting to build his legacy in LA. It might be a different approach, but the consequences of failing could be unforgiving and ruthless.

No projections can be made on the Lakers with their current state of affairs. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. A lot hinges on this season. Can the Lakers hold their nerves and execute their plans?