What’s So Attractive About the Lakers?
The 2013-2014 season was the last time the Los Angeles Lakers made the playoffs, making this past season the fifth straight year the Lakers have been sitting at home watching the playoffs. In those five seasons, the Lakers highest win total is 35, which came this past season. Kobe Bryant, who won five championships with the Lakers, retired in 2016. The current Los Angeles Lakers are highlighted by Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram, none of whom have ever made the playoffs. This team is full of a bunch of young players with no playoff experience who have yet to prove they can be a threat to the league. No playoffs in five years, one of the best players in the history of the NBA gone, and a group of unproven young guys. What’s so attractive about the Lakers?
The reason I ask this question is because Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and LeBron James all seem to be interested in playing for the Lakers. Kawhi Leonard is from LA, Paul George is from Palmdale, which is about an hour away, and LeBron has a second home in LA. When you look at it from this perspective, it’s easy to see why these players are interested in playing for the Lakers, but there’s a more important perspective to look at than where your home is. That perspective is winning, most importantly winning championships.
LeBron James has won three championships in his career, while Kawhi Leonard has won a championship also. Both are already champions, but the goal to win championships doesn’t stop after winning one or three. While winning championships may not be as important after already winning one, it should still be at the top of the list. Paul George has yet to win an NBA championship in his career. For George, winning a championship should be priority number one.
Since the recent news of Kawhi Leonard wanting to be traded to the Lakers, there have been a lot of rumors that the Lakers could sign LeBron James and Paul George, and then trade for Kawhi Leonard. While that is possible, it would take a lot of work. This idea is based on a lot of “ifs”, so nothing is set in stone here. If, key word if, all three of these players were to play for the Lakers next season, they would absolutely be considered a super team. I have no doubt that a team consisting of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George would be one of the best teams in the league.
Even though they’d be one of the best teams, the question is, can they beat the Warriors? LeBron would have a much better chance of beating the Warriors with Kawhi and Paul by his side, but it takes more than just having two stars playing with you to win a championship. You have to have other players on your team who are capable of making an impact in order to win. Again, some of the Lakers main players right now are Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram. If LeBron, Kawhi, and George come to LA, who has to go?
Julius Randle is a restricted free agent, so the Lakers can match any offers for him. The problem is, Randle is likely to be offered a good chunk of money. If the Lakers sign LeBron and Paul George and then trade for Kawhi, will they have enough room to sign Randle with whatever offer he gets? Depending on the offer, maybe, but chances are probably not. That brings us to the next question. Who will the Lakers have to trade in order to get Kawhi? From what I’ve heard, it’s Lonzo Ball. Kawhi Leonard is a star, so it’s probably going to have to be more than Lonzo, but for now we’ll say Lonzo and Julius Randle won’t be there. That leaves them with Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram playing with LeBron, Kawhi, and George. Could they beat the Warriors with this lineup? I’m not going to give a for sure yes, but I think they’d make it competitive.
Having all three stars in LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George is the only way I give this team a chance to beat the Warriors. What happens if the Lakers sign LeBron and Paul George, but can’t pull off a trade for Kawhi? A team with LeBron and Paul George sounds good, but having Lonzo Ball as your third star player is not going to get you past the Warriors. LeBron needs a group of players capable of making a big impact every game. This group of young Lakers players has yet to prove anything in the NBA.
If you’re Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, or LeBron James, going to the Lakers seems nice if you can play with the other two guys, but making a decision based off an “if” is probably not a wise idea. If these players care that much about playing where their home is, then I understand that, but if they care about winning championships, the Lakers don’t make any sense to me at all. Why not go to a destination where other star players are already in place? You know they’re going to be there and you don’t have to wonder “if” they’re going to trade for Kawhi Leonard.
If these players are looking to win a championship, there are much better places to team up than the Lakers. Rockets? Proven players. Wizards? Proven players. 76ers? Proven players. Most of these guys haven’t won championships, but at least they can make the playoffs. Again, the Lakers haven’t done that in five years. Why not all go to San Antonio? Then you don’t have to worry about them trading for Kawhi. Then you get proven championship players and a proven championship coach. I just don’t get what the big deal is about playing for Lakers. They’re not the team they once were when they had Kobe, Shaq, Pau Gasol, and Phil Jackson and were winning championships. Right now they’re a bunch of players who haven’t proven anything.