Los Angeles will be playing host to next year’s NBA All-Star Game, and don’t think for a minute Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss isn’t pining for purple and gold to be repped on the floor, at Staples Center, when the 2018 superstar exhibition tips off.
“Next season Los Angeles is hosting the NBA All Star game at Staples Center and I’m concerned we won’t have an All Star on the team,” Buss said on a podcast with Forbes Sports Money. “That would break my heart.”
So should we cut to the Lakers offering Brandon Ingram and whomever they select with this year’s first-round pick for Paul George in July now or later?
If the Lakers are to have an All-Star representative next year, it likely won’t be anyone on the current roster. Neither Ingram nor D’Angelo Russell has shown hints of making that kind of leap. Ditto for Randle. Russell probably has the best chance at making a star-level stride, but he plays a terribly deep backcourt slot. He isn’t getting in over the likes of Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, C.J. McCollum—the list goes on. (Ingram’s breakout, on the wing, would incur the same issue, for the record.)
The Lakers will have cap space to bring in an outside star, but there aren’t many All-Stars from which to choose. Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Paul, Curry, et al. are expected to stay put, and Gordon Hayward isn’t expected to give Los Angeles much, if any, consideration.
That leaves the trade market. The Lakers have three top-seven prospects as is, two of whom, Ingram and Russell, were drafted in the top two. They are on course to add a third such asset. Dangling any combination of those pieces should be enough to get them in a blockbuster conversation, particularly if George tries forcing his way to Hollywood via trade.
But should the Lakers mortgage the future to that degree, when they’re supposed to be rebuilding for both depth and star power? That’s the question they’ll need to answer.