Breaking! Lakers Need 3rd Star with LeBron James, AD to Contend for Title amid NBA Trade Rumors

The Los Angeles Lakers are aiming to contend for an NBA title during the season.But they maybe aren’t going about it the right away.

Their roster needs another difference-maker, and they have the resources to chase one. Remember, when discussing why this club kept quiet at the latest trade deadline, Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka cited the ability to trade up to three first-round picks this offseason, allowing for, in his words, “access to potentially a greater or bigger swing.”

As the hoops world moves nearer to the market’s opening, though, it sounds as if that swing won’t be as great or big as anyone imagined. At least, the “sense” from The Athletic’s Jovan Buha is that “they’re leaning more toward upgrading the supporting cast rather than the three-star model.”

To be fair, this isn’t a totally senseless strategy. Star-studded rosters with huge payrolls to match are increasingly difficult to manage under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. And making a team overly top-heavy, helps no one. Just ask the Phoenix Suns.

Supporting casts matter. L.A. is smart to recognize as such.And yet, this just isn’t the move for the Lakers to make right now. Not ahead of LeBron James’ age-40 season.If L.A. knew it would have multiple cracks at getting this right, then maybe it could adopt this relatively low-risk strategy and see how things go, knowing it could always double-back to a blockbuster deal if needed. But the Lakers can’t know that. Truth be told, they don’t even know if they’ll have James next season, since his current contract shows only a $51.4 million player option, per Spotrac.

Assuming James sticks around for another season or two alongside Anthony Davis, though, L.A. has that many chances to get it right. Staking those chances on a couple of new role players seems either wildly optimistic or outright reckless.The Lakers weren’t a few subtle tweaks away from contending for the crown this season. They had some strong stretches, sure, but they didn’t show the kind of sustained dominance that made you feel they were capable of capturing four consecutive postseason series victories—with, perhaps, a play-in victory or two preceding them.

L.A. was seventh in the West standings, tied for 12th overall in winning percentage and all the way down at 19th in net efficiency, per. And that was with James clearing the 70-game mark for the first time since joining the Lakers, and Davis making a career-high 76 appearances.

Who knows if the Lakers get that level of availability from their stars again? And even if they do, that wasn’t enough for this team to contend this season, so why would that be different during the next?

Chasing a few support pieces feels like trying to throw a couple Band-Aids on a wound that clearly requires surgical attention. Maybe it makes you feel better in the moment, but it’s not actually addressing the problem.

L.A. needs a third star. It almost doesn’t matter which one. If the price is right, the Purple and Gold could talk itself into anyone from Donovan Mitchell or Brandon Ingram to Trae Young or Dejounte Murray. If that player is consistently providing high-end scoring, perimeter creation and the gravitational pull forcing defenders to lessen their focus on James and Davis, then this team might resemble a heavyweight contender.

Unless the Lakers find that elite, though, their own dreams of joining the Association’s elites will never become reality.

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