With Paul George in Waiting, Lakers Strike a Deal to Open Door for His Arrival

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — What a confidant new Los Angeles Lakers epoch of group president Magic Johnson and ubiquitous manager Rob Pelinka boils down to this: They trust they can broach new superstars that others before them could not.

It’s now adult to Johnson and Pelinka to close in Paul George and have a luminary crony to put alongside him a year from now in giveaway agency, ideally LeBron James or Russell Westbrook.

By trade D’Angelo Russell’s intensity and Timofey Mozgov’s awful agreement to a Brooklyn Nets for a No. 27 collect in a breeze and Brook Lopez‘s failing contract, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday, Johnson and Pelinka gamble on their ability to spin top space into championship talent. Former executive clamp boss of basketball operations Jim Buss and former ubiquitous manager Mitch Kupchak insincere they could as well.

This is a new (but old) Plan A.

However, George’s reported desire to finish adult in L.A. gives a Lakers a certain thing that Buss and Kupchak never had. George’s commercial to a Pacers front office, that ensured a Lakers won’t be forced to trade most to get him, was one domino. Giving adult on Russell usually to unpack Mozgov is another, as a Lakers can now fairly easily transparent adequate top space to pointer both George and another max actor subsequent summer.

While Johnson sets a ultimate course, Pelinka will fact Plans B, C, D, all a approach to Z. Maybe a Lakers trade for George. Maybe a Nos. 27 and 28 altogether picks they reason Thursday don’t get changed and contingency spin into inexpensive long-term labor subsequent to superstars. Maybe they pointer DeMarcus Cousins.

There are tons of maybes, though there contingency be in rebuilds that always take luck, too.

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

A core problem sabotaging a prior regimeperhaps a biggest constructional flawwas that Buss and Kupchak were never cut out to be builders. They were used to Lakers excellence maturation consistently and easily. Neither had a draw or animation to dispatch and make something out of nothing.

Jerry Buss knew their limitations, though he hoped his son and longtime infantryman Kupchak would equivocate a reconstruct with a offer of Dwight Howard for Kobe Bryant’s final stretch. The devise was to set Jim adult for an easy few years of excellence and an early retirement.

With Howard now a sour memory and Jim discharged (along with Kupchak) by his sister Jeanie, a Lakers are behind to where they were before in a sense: desiring stars will group to a splendid lights of Tinseltown. 

This time, however, a group hopes to daub into a strengths of a new front bureau to broach those stars.

For one, Pelinka knows agents. Don’t destroy to notice a material outcome of this environment Russell adult for grand event on another large theatre to make his name with a Nets; Russell’s representative is Aaron Mintz, who also represents George. Russell is now Brooklyn’s one and usually marquee immature player—and gets a uninformed start divided from Nick Young’s ex-fiancee and Bryant’s shadow.

If a Lakers have to give adult some-more of their immature core to trade for George rather than signing him undisguised in 2018, he’ll be authorised to get most some-more income in a prolonged term, as L.A. would acquire his Bird rights. That’s something no luminary would ignore, and it’s accurately a rabbit-out-of-the-hat approach Pelinka done his symbol on a joining as an representative before switching sides progressing this year.

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

Backroom exchange with agents weren’t a clever fit of Kupchak, who adhered firmly to following manners and norms. That said, it’s still obligatory on Pelinka to infer his several skeleton lead to a real-world, star-powered destination.

In a meantime, Johnson’s faith in a subsequent rookie indicate ensure runs deep, that is because he told Lonzo Ball in their predraft assembly that he envisions him entrance in to be a leader. Having that space to lead would have been scarcely unfit had Lakers conduct manager Luke Walton not resolved that Russell wasn’t going to rise into what a Lakers wanted, radically creation him a tradable asset.

Russell did urge with a faith Walton attempted to put in him from a commencement of final season, though his celebrity is not one that wins people over. Bottom line.

When we are as detached as Russell is and are perplexing to sell gifted leaders such as Johnson and Walton on your care ability, that’s a passed end, no matter how good your pick-and-roll flitting or sharpened cadence competence become.

True, this was really offered low on Russell, a 2015 No. 2 altogether pick, as suggested earlier this week. Yet there was also a risk of Russell’s value dropping even offer after a year of Ball upstaging him in a Lakers offense and him stability to be a spook in a Lakers defense.

Adding Lopez to a brew might also accomplish what Kupchak had hoped when he sealed Mozgov. Lopez is a gifted actor and good locker room celebrity (think Pau Gasol) who will assistance a immature Lakers win games in a entrance season, most as Mozgov and Luol Deng were ostensible to do final year.

Adam Hunger/Associated Press

After phenomenon a three-point shot final season, Lopez is now singly matched for Walton’s spread-floor system, while he also promises to strengthen a rim. (He done 134 threes in 2016-17; Russell, by comparison, strike 135). Lopez, 29, is from North Hollywood and is a Southern California child usually like Ball and George. Part of a prophesy of Johnson and Pelinka is to maximize that internal angle, so maybe Lopez winds adult staying for reduction income or does good adequate to give a Lakers another asset.

But Lopez’s attainment isn’t a point. Rather, Mozgov’s depart is a pivotal in this deal, as it opens adult a financial space for when someone estimable of luminary income comes.

In that sense, a unhappy final years of Jim Buss and Kupchak—and Bryant—could offer a useful purpose in Lakers history.

No one wanted to take a flame and vigour from arguably a biggest Laker ever, Bryant. It’s distant some-more appealing to be a savior and revitalise this immensely renouned NBA authorization from a darkest days.

That’s because Johnson didn’t consider he indispensable Jerry West, who did wish behind in with a Lakers before settling for a purpose in a Clippers‘ front office.

Johnson and Pelinka trust they can do this, that is because they’re not being bashful about trying.


Kevin Ding is an NBA comparison author for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.

Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail stories@tutuz.com