With the NBA Finals officially in the books, it’s already time to look ahead and wonder what we’ll see from this year’s finalists, the Lakers and Heat, next season. For teams across the league–including the LA Clippers, who will hope to improve on their disappointing 2020 finish next season–knowing how the competition will shape up is an important step in assessing your needs and priorities.

An NBA season always carries a bit of unpredictability, but I’m not going to indulge in hot takes or risky predictions just yet. For now, I just want to look at the rosters of the two teams who just wrapped up in the Finals and ask whether it’s feasible that they will return to more or less the same level next season. So, while LeBron could (finally) start to seriously slow down due to age, or Bam Adebayo could take the “leap” from All-Star to superstar, we’re gonna leave that speculation to the talk shows and look at the decisions that will shape each team’s off-season.

Los Angeles Lakers

The big one

The absolute biggest variable for the Los Angeles Lakers to address this offseason is a $28.8M player option for Anthony Davis, their second star and a truly irreplaceable part of their nightly excellence on both ends of the floor.

Davis will almost certainly decline that player option, as he’s eligible for a higher salary and can lock in security via his bird rights. I seriously, seriously doubt that there’s any chance he even considers offers from other teams, instead just signing a new max to return to the Lakers (the Dallas Mavericks poaching Davis and pairing him with Luka Doncic would be the right combination of hilarious and terrifying, but I just don’t see it).

As long as nothing goes wrong, Davis will take a monster deal to stay a Laker this summer–possibly a 2+1 deal where he can opt out in the summer of 2022 and sign a new, larger maximum contract as a 10-year veteran. Either way, it would be a major surprise if he’s doing anything other than making $33M to play for the Lakers next season.

Getting the band back together

Other than the AD variable, a number of the Lakers’ role players are either going to be free agents or have player options. The team doesn’t really have a reasonable pathway to significant cap room and they won’t have a ton of tradeable contracts on the books, so look for them to try to re-sign their guys and use the mid-level exception to plug any gaps that emerge. Let’s take a look at each player’s situation:

  • Danny Green, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and Talen Horton-Tucker are all under contract for next season. Green’s $15M expiring could be a trade piece, but the Lakers don’t have much in the way of value to attach to that contract to pull off a deal. Is Green’s expiring and Kuzma bringing back anything that great? Probably not.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a player option worth $8.5 million. He should decline that, as he’ll be able to get a good multi-year deal after a strong showing for the champs, but in a rather dry market the Lakers should be able to use his bird rights to retain him on a reasonable deal, maybe in the 3 years, $30-36 million range.
  • Avery Bradley has a player option worth $5 million. Bradley is a tricky question for the Lakers, as his (understandable) absence from the bubble left the team learning that they can win a title without him. He should decline his option, as he had a strong enough bounce-back year to get a solid multi-year deal, but the Lakers have just his non-bird rights–meaning they can pay him just under $6M next season. That might not be enough, and the Lakers might even shy away from making a commitment to Avery after winning without him.
  • JaVale McGee has a player option worth $4.2 million. While McGee wasn’t a big part of the Lakers’ success in the playoffs, it’s hard to ignore that he greatly exceeded expectations this season as the team’s starter and proved that he can still be a strong positive as a rotation piece. Strong enough to turn down $4.2M for next year? It’s unclear, but even if he does the Lakers should be able to use his early bird rights (which would allow them to pay him up to $9.5M next season, far more than he’ll demand) to keep him.
  • Quinn Cook has a partially-guaranteed deal worth $3,000,000 next season with a trigger date of October 17th. If waived before then, he’ll only be due $1,000,000. Cook had a pretty small role this season and doesn’t feel worth an above-minimum deal, especially since that wiggle room could help the Lakers navigate the hard cap next season if they use the full MLE. Waiving a guy the same week you won a title is harsh, but it wouldn’t surprise me here.
  • Rajon Rondo has a player option for $2.7 million. Rondo was extremely mediocre for much of the season, but he was a leader for this Lakers team and he was huge for them throughout the playoffs when the pressure was highest. He can absolutely get more than $2.7 million from any number of teams (even the Clippers could use a backup point guard like him), but he’s unpredictable at this point in his career. He’ll turn 35 in February, he’s won two rings and made over $100 million. He could re-up with the Lakers, who have his early bird rights, or even decide to retire. We’ll likely get an indication about his future in the coming days.
  • Markieff Morris is a free agent with non-bird rights. The most the Lakers can pay Morris is just under $3M, and unless he wants to stay badly enough to take a paycut that shouldn’t be enough after really strong, versatile performances throughout the playoffs.
  • Jared Dudley is a free agent with non-bird rights. A non-factor on the court but a (seemingly) good presence in the Lakers’ locker room and organization, Dudley could be a candidate to retire at 35 or could return on another minimum deal.
  • Dwight Howard is a free agent with non-bird rights. Like with Morris, the Lakers (at just over $3M) won’t be able to compete with what Dwight will be able to earn on the open market. But like Rondo, it might not matter. Howard will turn 35 soon and has had a bizarre career as an embattled journeyman superstar-turned-role player. Nearing $250 million in career earnings (plus tons of off-court money), is a slightly larger deal or role really going to tempt him? We’ll have to see if other contenders in need of another interior presence, like the Clippers or the Boston Celtics, come calling.
  • Dion Waiters and JR Smith are non-factors. Smith could return on a minimum deal (though the Lakers may not be interested) or retire, while Waiters probably needs to pursue more opportunity on a worse team to rehabilitate his career.

Getting better

Beyond keeping their own guys, the Lakers will have three potential avenues to add free agents: the mid-level exception (MLE), the bi-annual exception (BAE), and the minimum exception. The minimum exception is the most obvious here–Lebron James has proven that this Lakers squad is championship-caliber, and veteran players could take cheap deals to chase a ring of their own.

The MLE and BAE are a little trickier. Both exceptions trigger the NBA’s hard cap, which should be roughly $139 million again next season (assuming the cap/tax/apron remain flat after a bad revenue year due to COVID). The MLE will be worth about $9.2M, and the BAE $3.6M. For those of you keeping score at home, the Lakers have $68,415,578 committed to 5 players next season, plus a likely $33M salary for Anthony Davis.

That means they’d have something like 38 million to fit the rest of their roster under the hard cap, depending on where some final figures end up. If they want to use both exceptions, that means they’d be limited to just $25 million to negotiate new deals for a combination of Caldwell-Pope, Bradley, McGee, Rondo, Morris, and Howard. And there’s no getting around the hard cap with minimum-salary deals, so any end-of-bench deals for guys like Jared Dudley or a new rookie would have to fit in that $20 million range as well.

Is it possible? Maybe. It gets a lot easier if guys like Rondo and Howard take cheap deals, and the Lakers might be willing to part with one or both of Bradley and McGee if it means accessing those exceptions to sign new talent. Hell, if Caldwell-Pope is going to be too expensive, the Lakers could decide to let him walk, keep everyone else, and use the full MLE. The team can also turn their exceptions inward and use them to offer new deals to players like Morris and Howard who they don’t have much flexibility to re-sign using free agent rights. Accepting the hard cap would be an imposition on the entire season–will the Lakers do that if it might limit their potential to take on salary in a mid-season trade?

If the Lakers aren’t able to make everything work within the constraints of the hard cap, they’ll forfeit their BAE entirely and have to accept the smaller taxpayer mid-level exception, which is worth around $5.7M and can only run for three seasons instead of four. It could be used to add a solid outside player or retain one of Rondo, Howard, or Morris if they’re tempted by larger offers elsewhere.

The draft

The Lakers have their own 28th overall pick this year, but keeping it might not be the best idea if they’re planning on navigating the hard cap, as first-round rookies carry above-minimum deals that cut into the team’s alright-tight margins. Trading back into the 30s could be an option.

The team doesn’t have a 2nd round pick, but between the potential that they trade back from 28th and their $4.6M in cash available to trade on draft night, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Lakers were competing with the Clippers to buy picks in the 2nd round. When it comes to the hard cap, second-round rookies are huge assets as their rookie minimum contracts fill a roster spot with the lowest salary available in the league (this hard cap benefit only applies to players you drafted, so signing undrafted free agents isn’t a loophole).

Miami Heat

Phenomenal youth

The Heat have one of the best cap sheets in the league, in no small part due to a wonderful collection of young players on cheap deals. All-Star big man Bam Adebayo will make just $5.1M next year, while explosive guard Tyler Herro is due just $3.8M. Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who was a full-time starter this season, will make just under $1.7M, along with Kendrick Nunn, who Erik Spoelstra featured heavily all year.

Those cheap deals, along with a wide-open cap sheet (Jimmy Butler is on a max deal through 2023, but nobody else has guaranteed money in the 2021-22 season), give Miami a ton of flexibility to make all kinds of moves now or in the future. The team could add a max free agent this year with a little cap clearing, and they wouldn’t need to clear cap at all to chase a max free agent next summer when Giannis Antetokounmpo headlines a stellar free agent class.

Priorities

The lack of money on the books and temptation of star-chasing in the 2021 off-season leave the Heat with an impossible set of decisions this summer: will they sacrifice future flexibility to keep together a roster that was good but not great this year before making a surprising Finals run from the 5-seed?

The Heat have Goran Dragic, Solomon Hill, Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr., and Udonis Haslem entering free agency this summer. Haslem is a Heat lifer; he’ll either be back on a minimum deal or retire and take a job in the organization. Miami has bird rights on Jones Jr. and will likely try to keep him on a team-friendly deal for depth, but it wouldn’t compromise this team to lose him.

Leonard and Hill are both easy enough to let walk. Hill was salary filler at the trade deadline and didn’t factor into Miami’s rotation, and will probably get an above-minimum contract and rotation role elsewhere. Leonard ended up with the Heat by coincidence as they used Portland as a dumping ground for Hassan Whiteside’s salary last summer to facilitate the signing of Butler, and while Meyers did start and get solid minutes for the Heat this year, he barely played after an ankle injury coincided with Miami adding Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder at the trade deadline. Especially with Kelly Olynyk likely picking up his $13.2M player option to return (he would take a serious paycut on the open market), Leonard’s skillset is replaceable.

Dragic and Crowder, though, are backbreaking. Two of the most important pieces of Miami’s run, it’s hard to imagine this team reaching their same level next season if either were to depart.

Both are interesting cases. Goran, at 34 years old but coming off of some of the best basketball of his career in the playoffs, might view this as one last chance to get a multi-year contract in the NBA. But as he recovers from a plantar fascia injury that could cost him the start of next season, interest around the league could wane. The Heat would presumably love to get Dragic back on an expensive one-year deal that keeps him on board without compromising their 2021 cap space. Paying him a lot next season shouldn’t be an issue, but if he wants a second or third year I expect the Heat would prioritize flexibility and trust in their two rookie guards next season. At the end of the day, I’m not sure where an offer is coming from for Dragic that will beat something like a one-year, $20 million deal to stay with the Heat.

Crowder is more likely to force the Heat to make a real choice. At 30 years old and coming off of a stellar run, Jae will certainly be sought after in free agency and might even solicit multi-year offers above the MLE. I don’t think a slightly larger one-year deal will be enough for the Heat here. With such wide-open books, the Heat could choose to calculate a salary for Crowder that will still leave them with max space in 2021, but doing so is an inherent risk as long as the COVID sports economy threatens basketball revenue going forward. Is Crowder the guy they want to take that risk in? A career 34% shooter, he greatly exceeded his average in a small sample size with the Heat, and ultimately shot 40% in the first two rounds of the playoffs before dropping off to 29.6% in the final two rounds.

Getting better

The Heat could open up cap space this summer, but if we assume they follow the path for Dragic outlined above they’ll be an above-cap team. That means the same tools we talked about for the Lakers, namely the MLE and the BAE. Like we’ve talked about, the Heat aren’t going to want to make multi-year investments in role players, but they could use the MLE to add a Crowder replacement in free agency. A one-year MLE contract isn’t super attractive, but it could get them a player like Moe Harkless.

Miami’s other option to look at how close they came this year, say screw it, and make a bigger play to find talent upgrades now instead of waiting around to chase Giannis in a year. If the Bucks fear losing Giannis and decide to trade him, a Heat package built around Bam Adebayo would be at the top of the list. Did Tyler Herro do enough in the bubble to be the centerpiece of a deal for Bradley Beal or Jrue Holiday? Would Miami be willing to let their free agents walk if it opened up the money for them to bring in Chris Paul’s contract from Oklahoma City? After falling short of bringing in Danilo Gallinari at the trade deadline, will Miami try to use some of their cap room to pursue him in free agency?

As a bit of an afterthought, the Heat have their own 20th overall pick in this year’s draft. You wouldn’t expect their selection there to be a major contributor next season, but this Miami front office has done pretty well in identifying prospects in recent years.

Overview

The Lakers, all things considered, should look really similar next season to how they looked this season. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if their rotation next season featured almost entirely guys who were a part of this title run, or even if the roster returned 12 or more players. If they do make moves, they’ll likely be on the edges, like adding minimum-salary veterans (we saw how effective this was with Rondo, Morris, and Howard this year) or using the taxpayer MLE to add one rotation piece. If teams chase the Lakers’ role players with money this summer, they could have to scramble to fill their rotation, but that’s unlikely in the current market. If things break LAL’s way, they could end up with the more lucrative full MLE to potentially add an impact player to their championship core.

The Heat are a little bit more of a wildcard. They are fully capable of paying their important free agents and running it back, but this year’s roster was supposed to be a competitive transition until they pursued another star next summer. It’s hard to believe they’ll cast aside those hopes and give up their flexibility to keep this team together, but also hard to see them letting key players walk and giving up on a group that just lost in 6 games in the Finals while dealing with serious injuries. Miami could try to thread the needle, keeping the important guys without sacrificing next summer’s max slot and filling in the gaps with new, bargain deals. But they could also go the other way, and decide that this core has proven that they’re good enough to cash in on their flexibility now and pursue a big-time acquisition.

213Hoops is an independently owned and operated L.A. Clippers blog by Clippers fans, for Clippers fans. If you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. Subscriptions start at $1 a month and support from readers like you goes a long way towards helping us keep 213Hoops sustainable, growing, and thriving.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

46 Comments

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    With a motivated and pissed off clipper squad and no useless coach screwing things up, the answer is no for the Lakers.

    Plus they seemed hungrier and more intense this year. Also, AD played nearly the entire season for the first time. Lakers will probably end up as a third seed or lower.

    • Avatar Gunna Wunna says:

      I think the right players are motivated but they need to get rid of negative distractions. As currently constructed, a team that reportedly “rolled their eyes” at Paul George’s speech does not show motivation. And they may need more than that. Pat Bev has motivation but never the skill to make it translate into anything the way similar personalities such as Draymond has. The difference is Draymond brings more to his team with playmaking which was LAC’s biggest weakness. Motivation only goes so far without the ability to execute.

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    As for the Heat, I don’t see them making it back as well because the reason why the young guys played so well all playoffs was no hostile crowds. For them it’ll be eastern conference at best.

  • Avatar KingAlfonse says:

    Woke up this morning convinced Kawhi will walk after next season barring a title. The reaction to the lakers win combined w/ everyone using it as an opportunity to crap all over the clippers will have him looking to salvage his legacy and go to a team w/o the baggage, in town competition, and negative perception. And linking up w/ Butler (who by all accounts was his first call) in miami makes a lot of sense.

  • Avatar Gunna Wunna says:

    For the Lakers age is a factor. Javale, Dwight, and Rondo all a year older. However, with the technology and advances in sports medicine, mid-thirties isn’t the retirement tour that it used to be. Even the Pierce/KG celtics teams were making the ECF by the time they hit their mid thirties and that was eight years ago.

    KCP is the biggest factor, with how much money he could collect. However, the Lakers likely made plans to give DeMarcus Cousins a second discount look which could be huge if he’s even 60% of what he used to be. His 3 point shot allows him to space the floor for LeBron and AD and allows AD to play the 4. Avery Bradley will also be back which is huge.

    For the Clippers, it is impossible to tell what they will be like until we see what they do with their coach postion and Trezz. While Doc and Trezz had their problems, is there any realistic free agent and coach that without a doubt can match their skill level? I don’t see many. Lue is the best case IMO but half the league wants him and he still hasn”t proven himself outside of LeBron and Kyrie. Trezz had a bad playoffs and may leave, but what better option is there? If the Clippers make a mistake in coaching and lose Trezz, the Kawhi/PG era may be over before it ever began.

    It is amazing to me that the Clippers had all the media praise and that “glitz over glamour” marketing campaign and still failed miserably with almost no future picks to work with. Now, with a confident Lakers team, the Warriors and Nets ready, and the Heat, Nuggets, Bucks and Celtics all coming back expected to be better, I just don’t see the Clippers being relevant for much longer in terms of contending. They have to hope for some luck this next season.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Ugh. Why are we doing this here?! We never covered the Dubs after each of our flameouts. F ‘em.

    That is all.

    • ianbaron ianbaron says:

      My point exactly. Why are we even taking about them. Especially the Lakers, as they’ve been shitting on us non-stop since we lost in the second round (again).

      • Avatar Alan Ng says:

        Care to defend yourself, Lucas?

      • Avatar osamu6238 says:

        The fact that the Lakers/Clippers is turning into a real rivalry is nothing but a complement to how far the Clippers franchise has come. In 2010, I could legitimately say I was rooting for the Lakers to beat the Celtics, because at least some of my friends/family would be happy. Clippers were so out of the picture, having them compete for the Lakers for a championship wasn’t even a consideration. Sure the Clippers made the playoffs a few years during the Cassell Era, but to think they’d even get close to winning a championship under Sterling was so laughable I don’t blame most Laker fans for completely ignoring the Clippers as a franchise. Likewise, a decade ago, I could root for the Clippers during the regular season, but still root for the Lakers to win championships.

        Since then, the Clippers have spent the majority of the last decade as legitimate contenders for a championship, while the Lakers spent the majority hunting lottery balls. The fact that this rivalry is heating up is only a sign that the Clippers are acting like a real franchise and a real threat to the Lakers. I’m the first to admit that LA will never be a “Clippers town”, but the fact is that it’s still WAY more of a Clippers town now than it was the last time the Lakers won a championship.

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    Sad season. And we’re losers. Everybody can laugh at LeBron during regular season, like “LMAO Lakers are not even good”, “We gonna sweep them! Can’t wait!”, “I don’t worry about Lakers. Their bench is garbage. We’re all right”…. But at the end of the day, nobody can beat LeBron in a 7-game series until you have 4 All-Stars + solid bench with unbelievable chemistry. Warriors will be back. Nuggets are still young. Mavs will get better. Healthy Blazers have Hood, Ariza.

    Being a Clipper fan is really tough.

  • ianbaron ianbaron says:

    Fuck the Lakers.

    That is all.

  • Avatar Roaddogg For life says:

    Put up an article regarding the clippers on what needs to be done about the squad once the playoffs are over. Talking about the lakers on a clipper site feels dirty.

  • Avatar dhpat says:

    Yeah, I want to vomit now, but congratulate the Lakers. They won in very difficult circumstances.
    Instead of feeling jealously, anger, sorrow, etc. Look at what the Lakers did right — they had LBJ and AD, who fit and complement one another; LBJ is a great and vocal leader; Rondo’s stability at PG; enough of a bench; and a smart coach, who is not stubborn and is willing to make adjustments — all things that we lacked.
    Yeah, next season is still up in the air, the NBA bubble again? But, we need to be ready.
    Steve Ballmer will get us a good coach, and we’ll go from there.

    • Avatar Oodypkt says:

      This!

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      “They won in very difficult circumstances.”

      That’s a joke, right? No road games, no travel, no fans in the stands, and instead of playing an actual Finals opponent, they got to play a fifth seed who just got hot in the bubble. This was so easy for them, even KD is probably shaking his head.

      • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

        They definitely had an easy path and didn’t have to play on the road or travel… but the Clippers, Bucks, Celtics, and Raptors were all playing in the same conditions and lost before they even had to face the Lakers. If the Clippers and Milwaukee want to complain that the Lakers won a title by playing Denver and Miami, they have nobody to blame but themselves for losing to those two teams. All part of what makes it so frustrating.

        • Avatar TF12 says:

          I agree but I’ll diverge on one issue.

          The bubble was always going to be part a war of attrition, both physically and mentally. I think the final four teams should get a ton of credit for being as resilient as they were (all teams deserve some credit), as this was likely a very tough format to be involved in, especially for professionals. Obviously The Lakers get the ultimate credit and reward, and deservedly so.

          However, I do think that in this format, with COVID and an impacted pace of schedule that teams that had less random occurrences happen out of their control were going to benefit more than they usually would, because the penalty for unfortunate situations requiring leaving the bubble (or going Danuel House) or injury was far more severe than it would be under normal circumstances. Its such a unique situation that coming months are going to be worth watching, because there is a lot of noise in the bubble data, and how teams sift through it and make decisions is going to be very interesting.

  • Avatar Oodypkt says:

    We should continue to get better.
    And if we want to focus on teams in the final.
    They seems to enjoy playing together, for each other. (You can loosely add Nuggets to the list too)
    That should be the main priority: Make the game fun again.
    Trust in the team.
    Go clips!

  • Avatar KingAlfonse says:

    Bev, Lou, Sham, S&T Trez for CP3. Is that a thing? Lucas?

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      Yup. It would be a bit more complicated than that but that’s the gist of what it would take.

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    I said back in March, that no single player stood to benefit more from an extended layoff than Lebron. In his age 35 season, to get months off between the regular season and the playoffs, I think was huge. I don’t want to doubt Lebron, because he keeps proving everyone wrong, but he’s turning 36 before the start of next year. Can he really play up to these levels for year after year? Even so far it’s been amazing. I expect him to still be awesome next year, but there’s difference between being a top 10 player in the league, and putting your team on your back and winning a championship.

    I expect they’re really need to start to load manage him next year, and hopefully have him fresh for the playoffs, but it’s going to be a fine rope to walk. I guess we still don’t know what next season is going to look like…. 40 games? 60 games? 80 games? playing in their home arenas?

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      They’ll go for 82 games, I think. They want to fulfill those TV contracts and make money. As far as arenas, I don’t think they’ll bubble again but we’ll see about potential clusters of neutral site games or things of that nature. Hollinger suggested playing MLB-style series, where you’d play each division team 8 times in 4-home and 4-away series… so the Clippers would go up to play the Warriors 4 times in one week, then come home and play the Suns 4 times the next week, etc. Would be absolutely brutal in our division.

  • Avatar Goons 1 says:

    If you’re gonna make a huge trade involving all those players, it better be for Jrue! I want no part of cp & that contract

    & line many have said, Fuck the lakers

    • Avatar dhpat says:

      Agreed, CP3’s contract is completely unworkable; for him to join a contender, he will have to take pay cut or restructure his deal.
      Would love CP3 to rejoin the Clippers, but he is 2 years older and does not have a good history of staying healthy, esp. when we really need him.

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      problem is Jrue probably has more trade value than CP. CP’s contract is the only thing that makes him gettable. Not sure the Clips have enough to make a Jrue deal.

      • Avatar Goons 1 says:

        They don’t have enough for cp either & would need to give up Zu also to be able to absorb that ridiculous contract!

        Either way, it’d have to be a multi team trade to land either which is why I said I’d rather go after Jrue if you’re gonna trade everyone besides Kawhi & PG.. The notion that Jrue has more value is true though which seems either highly unlikely

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    What’s been bugging me is how this championship suddenly somehow validates all the disfunction and craziness of the Laker’s front office. I’ve seen nothing but praise for like Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka the past few days.

    Judge the shot with the ball in the air. The way the Laker’s front office has acted since Magic has left is still very poor. Sure Rob had to deal with the death of one of his best friends, and I have all the sympathy in the world for him on a personal level, but this still doesn’t validate him as being good at his job. The facts still are that Lebron joined the Lakers because he wanted to be a Laker and live in LA, not because they assembled some crazy good roster. AD wanted to play with Lebron, and you make the trade for AD when it’s available. Almost all the rest of the roster was holdovers from the Magic Johnson era. Then they Mr. Magoo’d their way into hiring Vogel by fumbling the whole Ty Lue deal, but I always thought Vogel was the better hire, . The one deal I give them a ton a credit for is bringing in Dwight Howard, given the known backlash they would receive from their fanbase.

    It will be really interesting how the Laker’s front office does as they move forward. I suspect they’ll have the opportunity to bring in a bunch of ring chasing vets, which again makes their jobs rather easy, but as we saw in the Doc Rivers GM era, bringing in a bunch of big name aging veterans doesn’t always work out. I think they have most of their roster coming back and as long as they have Lebron and AD, they might be favorites to repeat, but they’ll pretty quickly soon have to decide how to handle the end of Lebron’s career which will be very interesting. Pelinka in my mind still has a lot to prove as being a GM in this league.