April 9, 2019 turned out to be a watershed moment in Lakers history, as shortly before tip-off in the team’s final game of the season against the now Western Conference Finalists; the Portland Trailblazers, Magic Johnson delivered a hammer blow to the organisation and resigned from his position as President of Basketball Operations.
Ever-since, Laker fans have had to endure speculation, embarrassment and protests at the way the organisation is being ran, with most of the fire being aimed at owner Jeanie Buss. Buss appears to be content with her inner circle, with various reports suggesting that Linda Rambis and her husband Kurt are assisting in the running of the organisation, along with Rob Pelinka’s influence growing.
A lot has been written about these events by the media and fans including this very site, opinions seem to be on the same page but through this tumultuous period we dare to hope and see light at end of tunnel.
Sat writing this on a glorious sunny day in the United Kingdom, the sun certainly seems to be shining on the Lakers right now. After the afore mentioned troubling weeks, the franchise landed a new head coach in Frank Vogel, and more importantly jumped 7 places from the projected #11 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, to the #4 pick. Thanks in part to Kyle Kuzma’s lucky, snazzy purple suit jacket. The pick is a tremendous reward for the fans. Finally something to celebrate about!
Rob Pelinka now has a lot to prove, he has been presented with an excellent opportunity to move this franchise forward with two options. Either Pelinka can build up from the strong young core we have in place (Kuzma, Ingram, Ball and Hart) and use the #4 pick wisely with the help of Jesse Buss/Ryan West and their scouting department. Or he can look to trade the pick to acquire additional superstar talent, to build a roster capable of contending almost immediately.
This is an unexpected flexibility that Pelinka must have wished for when he woke up yesterday morning, free agency is almost upon us and this top-4 pick possibly opens the door for the Lakers to re-engage with the New Orleans Pelicans for an Anthony Davis trade. That or open up discussions with the Washington Wizards to bring Bradley Beal to Los Angeles.
A lot of challenges remain and chips still have to fall, but there are more reasons to be optimistic about this off-season and the upcoming season, especially now the draft lottery has blessed the Lakers. Now, it’s over to the front office.