Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors are facing a Los Angeles team in the playoffs. It’s probably not the one most people expected, as the Clippers made the trip up to the Bay Area this weekend for game one of the Western Conference 1st Round (currently on ABC).
When the Lakers signed LeBron James last summer. most thought the franchise would at least make the postseason. Instead, they missed the playoffs and finished below .500 for the 6th straight season, leading to the resignation of president Magic Johnson and the firing of head coach Luke Walton.
This turmoil has Rob Pelina, the general manager, deliberating on what to do this offseason. Thompson is amongst a handful of superstars under consideration for a free agent signing, as well as Golden State teammate Kevin Durant and Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard.
More than a few analysts are reporting/speculating that Los Angeles is not the top choice for Thompson. Bill Oram of The Athletic reported that the Lakers are the “second or third” choice on each of those players’ destination list. Instead, James and the Lakers brain trust is trying to build the team on complementary pieces.
“You don’t need names, you need games,” a source close to James told The Athletic. The Lakers could build a team of complementary pieces better suited for James, like Boston’s Marcus Morris or Milwaukee’s Nikola Mirotic, and fare better than they did this season. But it would run counter to Johnson’s stated philosophy. After all, on a World Series broadcast last fall, Johnson declared, “I’m going to get another superstar next summer!”
In addition, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked to Brian Windhorst on his podcast about the chances Los Angeles reels in a player like Thompson or Durant.
“Guys, I don’t think Klay even gives the Lakers a meeting. If [the Warriors] don’t give him the full max, I think he goes someplace else. I really don’t think Klay gives the Lakers a meeting.”
Before Pelinka and owner Jeannie Buss give up on the superstar route, there’s a possibility they bring on the Warriors president Bob Myers. The objective would be to bring Durant and/or Thompson in the fold of a trustworthy president with an accomplished vision. Per Josh Schrock of NBC Sports:
Myers won NBA Executive of the Year three years later after signing Klay Thompson to a contract extension and refusing to trade him the previous offseason for Kevin Love. He once again was named Executive of the Year in 2017 after signing Kevin Durant the previous offseason.
Myers has shown he’s one of the brightest front-office minds in the NBA.
As discussed on previous rumors posts, the Lakers will probably only have room for one mega-signing this offseason. Their cap space is projected to over $41 million, whereas Durant made over $31 million last season. Signing someone like him or Thompson is in the cards, especially if Myers comes aboard, but almost assuredly not both.
Thompson wants a max contract from Golden State this year, which would be in the range of 4 years, $102 million. With this in mind, a potential Myers-Pelinka pairing could sign him and still have $16 million to replenish complementary parts around James.
This Myers deal is worth watching, because it could change the perception of the troubled Lakers franchise.