For the Los Angeles Lakers, everything has been building up to one singular moment. That moment, for better or worse, is just four short months away. When the Lakers had a chance to move on PG13 this past summer, they refused, claiming they could snag him for free in the following summer. And when the Lakeshow decided to hold on to (most) of their young core this season, it was with a mindset revolved around July of 2018.
This summer will determine what's next for Magic and his Lakers. Play it right, and they could be swimming in the success they haven't seen since 2010. Come out empty handed, though, and it could spell another few years of a grueling rebuild for a team desperate to regain their respect.
In this list, we name some possible big-name targets in the summer of 2018 for the Lakers and determine whether or not they can lift the franchise back to its former glory.
Despite the Thunder being 13 games above .500, there's good reason to believe Carmelo Anthony may not be staying returning to OKC. Carmelo is a big-market type of player, he enjoys the hype of large cities. Plus, playing behind Russ and PG might not be his ideal situation, especially for a guy used to being #1. The point is, Carmelo would be a relatively easy get for L.A.
The problem? He's not nearly the same player he was back in Denver or New York City. Averaging just 16.7 points on 40.7% shooting for the season, he is on the cusp of finishing out his worst statistical season in years. While Anthony would add a lot of offensive fire-power to the purple and gold, there's no feasible way he'd be able to deliver them a championship if he were the only star they signed this upcoming summer.
What exactly do we make of DeMarcus Cousins' upcoming free-agency? He's been an animal this year, cementing his status as one of the best big-men in the game. But after an abrupt Achilles tear in January sidelined him for the remainder of the season, many are questioning just how good Cousins can be next season.
And while rumors indicate he may stay in New Orleans, he (just like Melo) has made no promises to stay in town past this summer. The Lakers have long been searching for a true All-Star Center and had to settle for Brook Lopez last June. Demarcus seems like a sizeable upgrade, but nobody quite knows what the future might look like for this downed superstar.
Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets are on an absolute tear this season. As a result, luring him to the Lakers will be tricky. They can sell him on the young core, and they can sell him on the cap-space, but there's no competing with the chemistry he's got with James Harden. And considering CP has already lived in L.A., he's better equipped to resist the lure of Los Angeles.
Still, many would argue CP doesn't have a place on the Lakers anyway. Lonzo Ball is currently running the show and is likely to become their next big superstar. But with Paul on the squad, it'd no doubt improve their team on both ends of the floor, and a pairing with him and Ball in the backcourt would prove to be one of the best in the league. Nearing his mid-30s, however, how much All-Star level play does he have in him?
The PG to L.A. rumors have been flying rampant since his dramatic exit out of Indy almost one year ago. Since then, it's seemed almost inevitable that he'd end up wearing the purple and gold.
For the Lakers, signing PG would be a dream come true. He would be a near perfect fit for the team, and having him would add much-needed star-power to the dying franchise. Averaging 20.9 points per game on 43.6% shooting, going to tha Lakers would give George a chance to resurge his career after having a relatively off year.
King James is a free-agent-to-be once again, and the world is going crazy. With only five possible locations left, the Lakers remain one of the only teams with a real opportunity to sign him.
LeBron in L.A. would be a true game-changer, providing the franchise with more than enough star-power to get back on track. Even at close to 34 years old, he'd likely project the team to (at the very least) a second-round playoff appearance. But with so much speculation on where he will go, and with Father time looming at the doorstep, there's no telling what's in store for him come next October.