Free agency in the NBA is about to start, and there has been lots of speculation that the Los Angeles Lakers may try to make some bold changes to their roster.
But according to executive Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ desire is to run it back while making some smaller additions to their roster in an attempt to get over the hump.
"We want to try our hardest to keep this core together," Rob Pelinka says. Lakers have been really clear about their plans this summer.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) June 27, 2023
Rob Pelinka said the Lakers are targeting tough, defensive-minded, selfless players in free agency. He echoed that the plan continues to be running it back with marginal upgrades.
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) June 27, 2023
Los Angeles seemed doomed to miss the playoffs for a second straight season just five months ago when it was unable to get to .500 despite some inspired play from LeBron James. It was seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place because of 2021’s ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade, which had resulted in an ill-fitting and thin roster.
But the Lakers started to remodel their team by first trading for forward Rui Hachimura in late January, then sending out Westbrook and draft compensation for guards D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt. Russell was the steady and smooth scoring guard who could also set up his teammates that Westbrook wasn’t, while Vanderbilt gave the team a much-needed versatile wing defender.
Then there was the emergence of second-year man Austin Reaves, who seemingly got better as the season went on and eventually became a starter late in the schedule.
Hachimura, Russell and Reaves will all be free agents, and the Lakers will have to figure out how to re-sign all three, assuming they want to keep all three of them.
If they want to pursue an upgrade, they can use Beasley’s contract as salary ballast. He has a team option for next season, and although he was a disappointment since arriving in L.A., perhaps he could rediscover his shooting eye on another team.
The Lakers’ new supporting cast took them all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Simply running it back could result in a better team by virtue of having a full offseason and training camp together.