Lakers Notes: Free Agents, LeBron, Jamison

The Lakers‘ path to a sixth straight non-playoff season began with a string of questionable free agent signings after they landed LeBron James, writes Marc Stein of the New York Times. In a look at what went wrong in L.A. this season, Stein notes that team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka surrounded James with JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Beasley, a shaky group of shooters who all have checkered pasts.

The Lakers had planned to give LeBron a season to mesh with the team’s collection of young talent before making a bid for Anthony Davis, Stein adds, but that changed when Davis submitted a trade request to the Pelicans in late January. The fallout from repeated leaked offers affected the players who were reportedly involved — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — and fractured the locker room, as the players know negotiations will resume in the offseason.

Lakers management will face intense pressure to shake up the organization this summer and produce a winner, Stein notes. Head coach Luke Walton will almost certainly be replaced and a roster overhaul appears imminent. Cap room is available to make another free agent splash, but the front office will have to be much smarter about how it spends its money.

There’s more Lakers news this morning:

  • James remains confident that his team will move in the right direction this summer, relays Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. After Thursday’s loss in Toronto, James was asked about the organization’s ability to appeal to the upcoming free agent class, which includes the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard. “I think everybody knew that coming into this year it was still going to be challenging even if we were all healthy and played all 82 games,” James responded. “… We have an opportunity to get better this summer through free agency, and through the draft, and I believe our front office and our coaching staff are going to make that happen.”
  • Everyone who suggested the Lakers should shut down LeBron for the rest of the season is missing the big picture, contends Michael Lee of The Athletic. James has little chance of winning three more championships to match Michael Jordan’s six, but he can still pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s career scoring leader. He’s nearly 6,000 points behind and needs to play as much as possible to have a chance.
  • Antawn Jamison, now working as a scout with the Lakers, talks about his aspirations to become a GM someday in an interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.
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