I still can’t decide what made me feel more queasy, was it my J. Cole Wet Dreamz night, or the last few hours before the NBA’s trade deadline this year? If we’re being 100% percent honest, today made me 10 times more nervous than I was that first faithful night. Let’s keep it real, I was going to get many attempts at perfecting that, today could have been a bad day for the next 10 years of Laker basketball if Magic Johnson decided to blow stuff up. For those of you who got that reference, y’all are awesome. For those who didn’t, let’s get to the basketball.
There was a fear among many Laker faithfuls that new president of operations Magic Johnson was going to come in and gut this young squad up. After all, he did come in right after Mitch Kupchak failed to land DeMarcus Cousins by sending Brandon Ingram to Sacramento. There was this feeling that Magic was going to come in and give up every asset in the hopes of a super-star. I had tweets saved in the drafts waiting for Magic Johnson to make a move I didn’t agree with, the tweet button was going to get hit ever so swiftly.
But to everyone’s surprise Thursday’s trade deadline came and went without any major deals. I knew Louis Williams would be moved and I’m content with the first round pick Los Angeles came out with, not to mention the scrappy veteran in Corey Brewer. They also snagged Tyler Ennis from Houston in exchange for Marcelo Huertas. These two trades most fans agreed with, it was the fear of losing ANY of the teams young group that shook many Laker faithful to the very core. We as a fan base had endured a few tough years to get to the point we are at now. All this got me to thinking, after today, what does the Lakers future look like?
Let’s start with the obvious elephant in the room, the Lakers Top 3 protected pick. Basically, if the Lakers ping pong ball lands in the 1-3 slot, the Lakers keep their pick. If said Lakers pick falls out of the Top 3, it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers who will probably spend it on a guy who they’ll trade in two seasons if there history is any indication. I’m writing this article with the mindset that Los Angeles will struggle on the back end of the schedule due to losing their leading scorer in Williams, also, I’m hoping the universe gives the Lakers luck and they keep the pick. Now, if they keep that Top 3 pick this is where stuff starts to get interesting. Let’s take Paul George for example, if he still hasn’t signed a long term extension with the Pacers don’t count out the possibilities of the Lakers sneaking him out of Indiana for those two picks.
Can you imagine that? Russell at the 1, George at the 2, Ingram at the 3, Randle at the 4, and wait for it, Boogie Cousins at the 5? You include Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. as the deadliest duo off the bench in the league, you’ve got yourself a squad who could hang with the best of them. Like I’ll say now and many times before the summer of 2018, a lot can happen between now and then. But let’s just imagine a world where that somehow happens. Pacers President Larry Bird cracks under the pressure of possibly losing his star player for nothing in return so he trades him to his long time rival, Magic Johnson. You can’t write that, man. No one could have seen this happening.
Fast forward to after the draft and the Lakers make a heavy push for DeMarcus Cousins in Free Agency. Plenty of cap space, Paul George, and the endless possibilities of this current squad? Who could say no to a deal like that? I’m very aware that every body under the sun has been linked to Los Angeles in Free Agency the last few years and never came, but that was before the team was loaded with talent for the future. Many argue that this team is the best young team in the league and will only get better from here on out. With a better nucleus of talent, the bright lights of Los Angeles will only shine brighter. Stars will ultimately attract super-stars.
I know it’s too early to tell, but if the Lakers play their cards right, this team may be back to the promise land before you know it. You mix Luke Walton’s player friendly system with the right mix of veteran leadership, sprinkle in some PG-13, add a spice of the new school Boogie in DeMarcus Cousins? I know it sounds too good to be true, but for the first time in years, this story could actually end with a Hollywood ending.