After the 110-98 victory against the Trailblazers to seal the Summer League Championship, Magic Johnson made sure to tell the world this ambitious message:
"...the Lakers are back."
At that moment, it certainly did feel like it. Lonzo Ball was the SL MVP, Kyle Kuzma was looking like the steal of the draft and the Lakers looked like they were headed in a positive direction. Expectations for the franchise were the highest they had been in years.
They expected to get key free agents this summer, and the summer after, too. They expected to see their young Laker team blossom into stars before the public's eye. They expected to regain the buzz and lure they had been lacking for the past few years. They expected to be the West's newest superteam by 2019.
Today, while things haven't necessarily gotten sour for the franchise, things aren't going quite according to plan for this team, either.
Throughout their long and tenured history, the L.A. Lakers have always counted on the lure of Los Angeles (and the shine of the purple and gold) or genius of the team to bring in superstars during the summer.
And for the last few years, the Lakers thought they could keep that trend going. They thought they could get LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015. They thought they could get Kevin Durant in 2016. They thought they could get Jimmy Butler in 2017.
And, most recently, they thought they would get Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and even LeBron James. In fact, reports indicated the Lakers were preparing for their arrival.
As time goes on, though, the doors keep closing in the Lakers' face. Russell Westbrook signed an extension in OKC. Paul George seems to be at home with the Thunder, and LeBron James gets to lead his re-vamped Cavs team through the East, yet again.
Reality is quickly becoming known in L.A.: there is no help coming. This time, they will not get saved by a superstar eager to wear the Purple and Gold.
So, what's next for L.A.?
Well, the Lakers will have to finish this rebuild the same way every other team does: by waiting.
They'll have to trust, and hope, and pray that their young stars will end up being as good as they thought. So far, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball have shown significant signs of life. They could very well be the next ones to restart the Lakers.
At the same time, though, those same guys have yet to prove they have the star power to live up to the Laker legend. Are they enough to make the Lakers great again? Can they live up to the burden of lifting the franchise?
Right now, the Lakers have to put all their hope on two unproven youngsters, with a lot left to prove in the NBA. Unlike what they've been accustomed to for so long, the Lakeshow doesn't have another superstar headed their way, at least not for a while.
To come back, they'll have to do this the old-fashioned way. With no shortcuts, and a whole lot of waiting, and the patience to slowly bring back the magic they once held.