LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to a championship after a decade-long drought but he’s going to be 36 when the next season starts. While he has shown no signs of slowing down, he’s not going to be the best basketball player in the world forever. The Lakers need to start thinking about how they can utilize Anthony Davis for the next decade.
One way to do that is to try and add a young star either when or just before LeBron starts to decline. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka made it seem like that’s the plan in a recent interview.
“We do want to do a couple things,” Pelinka said on The Woj Podcast. “We hope that we can have another championship run next year, for sure, and we’re going to work hard to try to keep the pieces around LeBron and AD, build pieces around LeBron and AD to do that. But also, with the future, again, if you study our cap (space) we have the flexibility to say, ‘Can we add another really, really talented young player to run it out with AD if he chooses to stay as a free agent for five, six, seven, eight years?’”
Pelinka may be stating the obvious but it is notable that he’s making his plans to add a young star public.
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Is Bradley Beal on Pelinka’s Radar?
The Lakers would probably like to add a third star as soon as possible but that will be hard to do this offseason. No young superstars are on the free-agent market and the team lacks tradeable assets. The team should start figuring out how to woo stars who are nearing the end of their contracts.
Bradley Beal is probably the best fit. He’s the same age as Davis and is a free agent next offseason. If he doesn’t get traded or doesn’t sign an extension, the Lakers need to aggressively pursue him. That said, he’s been vocal about the fact that he wants to stay with the Washington Wizards. He could decide to stay put for a while. There have been reports that the Lakers are interested in Beal but nothing has come out to suggest the feeling is mutual.
Lakers Could Look Further Into the Future
If there’s nobody coming this season or next, Pelinka could look further into the future. As Magic Johnson recently talked about, Luka Doncic could become a free agent around the time LeBron starts to decline. He appears to be on pace to be the best player in the NBA within the next few years. He’d be the best possible player to pair with a post-LeBron Davis.
The Lakers could also take advantage of the Klutch Sports angle. Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks had a breakout year this past season and signed with Klutch Sports. Ben Simmons is another client of the agency. Both men could be really strong replacements for LeBron down the road. Obviously, nobody is as good as “The King,” but the Lakers will have to do their best to find an adequate replacement.