Next year’s Lakers team may look very much like this one.
That’s what legendary coach Phil Jackson thinks, anyway.
In a wide-ranging interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick, Jackson hinted that the Lakers would make little or no moves this coming offeason.
“I think the Lakers will probably stay pretty pat,” Jackson said. “Make another extension of the year that they had this year with the younger players and players coming in that they can look at and see if they can’t get a core group of young players playing together. Trust the fact that Mike can kind of blend a gun and run and run and gun team.”
Of course, while Jackson isn’t officially involved with the team’s front office decisions, he’s engaged to Jeanie Buss and is good friends with Mitch Kupchak, so there’s probably more than guesswork behind Phil’s comments.
Also, it’s worth noting that the 68-year-old did name Luol Deng as a potential free agent target for the purple and gold, as well as Pau Gasol, though he admits the Spaniard may not want to re-sign with the franchise.
Jackson’s thoughts are pretty much in line with what’s already been reported this year.
The Lakers’ interest in Deng has already been documented, as has their apparent plan to pass on Carmelo Anthony this summer in order to preserve their cap space for Kevin Love in 2015.
So, yes, this means that the Lakers’ roster next year could look very much like this current group of players: A team full of guys on one-year deals looking to revitalize their career under the bright lights of Hollywood.
Of course, the team will have their draft pick to develop next season – Jackson called the selection “a tremendous pick” – and Kobe Bryant should finally be healthy, though unless the team is able to add a real difference maker via free agency they may once again struggle to make the playoffs.
And the bad news is that the Lakers don’t own their 2015 first-round draft pick, so there’d be no silver lining to a poor season next year.
It’s worth the team having another down year next season in order to retain their future flexibility, though: One more bad year is easier to stomach than five-to-ten years of mediocrity due to signing players to large sums of money just for the sake of spending, something that Mitch Kupchak recently reiterated in his post-trade deadline interview.