The Improbable Return of the Lakers Dynasty
I have been an avid Laker fan since I was 5, the year was 1990 and my stepfather would take me to his friends apartment to watch every home game. I have faint memories of the Showtime Lakers with Magic Johnson — but my most vivid memories were the Lakers back when they had: Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, a (young) Kobe Bryant, Elden Campbell, Shaq, you get the picture. I was one lucky kid to be able to witness Magic, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, and then Kobe Bryant— on live TV! It’s hard to explain just how amazing it was to watch MJ and idolize him, spending day and night on the court in your driveway trying to “Be Like Mike.”
Fast-forward to today and it’s tough to be a Laker fan — we had only 16 wins last season, drama in the locker room, and struck out summer after summer in free agency after the not-so-well thought-out attempt to quickly build a “super” team. The taste is still bitter from the last 3 years with:
- Mike Brown, then Mike D ’Antoni, then old-school Byron Scott, as our head coaches.
- Steve Nash (which we were stuck with for 3 years at $9 mil/ year, and injured 90% of the time).
- Kobe Bryant (who overworked himself into his body just giving up on him, leaving us with one season without Kobe, half a season with Kobe, then another season without Kobe).
- Pau Gasol was smart enough to leave the franchise that forgot how valuable he was in free agency.
- Then theres Dwight — who never really wanted to be with the Lakers in the first place. You can’t blame him, it’s not like he requested to go to the Lakers specifically, he just wanted out of Orlando.
Now that that’s all in the past, let’s focus on the present. We have a promising young core in D’Angelo, Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown and Julius Randle. We have hopeful returns from some of our bench (with still some untapped potential) in Marcelo Huertas, Tariq Black, and Brandon Bass. Not to mention we still have a veteran contributor in Lou Williams.
This Summer the Lakers have roughly $68 millions to spend, take into account they are resigning Clarkson and will have to pay the #2 pick (ahem, Brandon Ingram) their due salaries. This should give the Lakers around $50+ million to spend on free agency.
But who do they take?
This is where things get fun — with options abound, the Lakers can potentially create a team that rivals other “super teams” in the league. We are going to explore a dream scenario for Mitch Kupchak, within reason for all teams hypothetically involved. This is definitely in the realm of possibility.
Dream Team Scenario:
This is where Mitch Kupchak works his old magic, and trades most of our future for a run at the present. Drum roll please….
The Lakers trade Brandon Ingram and Lou Williams to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.
Indiana gets a future star to fill PG13’s spot with Brandon Ingram and a solid bench contributor in Lou Williams, filling two spots on the roster. The Lakers get their man to succeed Kobe.
The Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr. to the Sacramento Kings for Demarcus Cousins.
Sacramento gets to pair Ben McLemore with D’Angelo Russell, and Rudy Gay would be a more ample scorer with no Cousins. The Kings clear a ton of cap space while filling a major long-term need in PG. The Kings drafted even more big men in this year’s draft, and with Willie Caulie-Stein succeeding as starting center, they seem in good shape. The Lakers now complete a deal they’ve been after since realizing Dwight was not their man. They finally get their quality big man.
The Lakers trade Nick Young and Julius Randle to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad.
Minnesota gets some unneeded salaries off their books, while getting a quality PF who would pair perfectly with Towns. They will draft Kris Dunn with their #5 pick, filling their void for PG. They would have Nick Young and Kevin Martin as potent bench contributors and mentors for this still, very young team. The Timberwolves could easily start Dunn, Levine, Wiggins, Randle, and Towns with Thibodeau coaching. Now that’s a scary team with tremendous upside. The Lakers would get a quality starting PG in Rubio and a solid backup SF in Shabazz, both still relatively young.
So far, the Lakers now would have:
PG: Ricky Rubio ($13 mil/ 3 yrs), TBD, TBD
SG: Jordan Clarkson (est. $13 mil/ 5 yrs), TBD
SF: Shabazz Muhammad ($3 mil), Anthony Brown ($500k)
PF: Paul George ($18 mil/ 2 yrs), TBD
C: DeMarcus Cousins ($16 mil/ 2 yrs) , TBD, TBD
That totals $64 mil. so far, out of the projected $94 mil cap space. That still leaves a nice amount of space for the Lakers to sign a couple of quality role players, and players looking to rebrand themselves for the MLE or Veteran’s Minimum. Or perhaps the Lakers go after another max level player, and go over the cap space filling the rest of their roster. Decisions, decisions…
Who would they get?
With Luke Walton at the helm, the Lakers are going to be a fast team; that will play both small and big ball depending on their opponent. The free agents they sign will have to be versatile and fit the aforementioned description, being able to play multiple positions is what we’re going for. With $30 million burning a hole in their pocket this is what the Lakers do in this scenario:
This is where Mitch works his magic — and the Lakers spend the remainder of their money to sign:
- Chandler Parsons, SF ($15 mil./4 yrs), the Lakers charm Parsons on July 1st, while the Mavericks are busy going after Horford, Conley and/or Dwight. Chandler realizes how solid of an offer this is given his injury history and accepts the deal.
- David Lee, PF ($8 mil./ 4 yrs), Luke Walton makes a call to David Lee and his agent, and convinces him to sign with the Lakers as a major cog of Luke’s team philosophy. David Lee finally has a new home and coach who knows him well.
- Marcelo Huertas, PG ($1 mil/3 yrs), the Lakers offer Marcelo to continue his career in LA with a longer contract. He is a fan favorite and will help Ricky Rubio from a maturity standpoint.
- Kirk Hinrich, PG ($2 mil), this all depends on if Hinrich gets many offers or not this offseason. There are still other serviceable options the Lakers can get for this price, who provide veteran leadership: think Andre Miller, DJ Augustin or Steve Blake. We like Kirk the best because of his heart and selflessness, he is a battle-tested reserve who adds to the culture the Lakers want and need.
- Nene, PF ($3.2 MLE), the Wizards are already pursuing other big men like Horford and Noah, and Nene could easily slip under the radar for most teams in the hunt for the likes of younger PF’s like Ian Mahini or Marvin Williams. The Lakers on the other hand, need more veterans to fill the roster.
- Miles Plumlee, C ($2 mil), Miles is a serviceable big man who could use a new environment to up his stock. If Miles is available, this can be a steal and a great backup center for DeMarcus.
- Brandon Bass, PF ($1 mil), after Bass shops around to other suitors he decides to stay home with the Lakers for the minimum. If not, the Lakers go for Tariq Black for the same price.
- Jabari Parker, PG/SG ($400k), after a successful Summer League, Jabari finally makes the final roster spot on the Lakers squad.
The stars would definitely have to align for this to ever be a reality for the Lakers, but in all actuality the other teams involved could definitely entertain the idea of a change-up since all teams involved have not been relevant for quite some time.
Now, where were we?
PG: Ricky Rubio ($13 mil.), Kirk Hinrich($2 mil.), Marcelo Huertas ($2 mil.)
SG: Jordan Clarkson (est. $13 mil.), Shabazz Muhammad ($3 mil.), Jabari Parker ($400k)
SF: Paul George ($18 mil.), Chandler Parsons ($15 mil.), Anthony Brown ($500k)
PF: David Lee ($8 mil.), Nene ($3 mil.), Brandon Bass ($1 mil.)
C: DeMarcus Cousins ($16 mil.), Miles Plumlee ($2 mil.), Ivica Zubau ($700k)
Lakers fans would definitely pay to see this. These players fit the versatile look that Walton is looking for to implore his offense and defensive schemes. This team would be made up of super competitive players who would buy into Luke’s philosophy, and make chasing after a ring not only within reach, but damn entertaining to follow. And boom, we are back to dynasty-form.
Thank you for reading.
I will try to write another article with what the Lakers do if, and they presumably will, keep their young core intact. Who do they sign in free agency? Stay tuned.