Next season starts now for the Los Angeles Lakers.
"In terms of free agency, we feel we have a core group of players that can do special things," general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters on Friday. "The goal is to try and keep that core group together."
He also said, "We have an insatiable desire to bring banner No. 18 here."
The Lakers won the championship during the 2019-20 campaign with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, but they came well short of repeating this season. They were relegated to the play-in tournament in the Western Conference and lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games in the first round.
While injuries to James and Davis undercut L.A.'s efforts for much of the season, it was also thoroughly outplayed by the Suns in the final three games of their series after taking a 2-1 lead.
Pelinka said the Purple and Gold will put a particular emphasis on getting James and Davis back to 100 percent this offseason.
There is no doubt a healthy James and Davis is quite the starting point when looking to construct a championship roster. That Pelinka said the core group is "special" and the plan is to keep it together and build around it is notable.
That could mean the Lakers are looking for more complementary role players rather than massive star additions with that pairing already in place. The supporting cast struggled for extended stretches in the series to the Suns, and pieces such as Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard from the championship team were sorely missed at times.
Banner No. 18 is the goal, and Pelinka made it clear he is already looking toward what he can do to achieve just that.