Los Angeles Lakers fans who hope their team lands an impact superstar during the upcoming offseason may have to wait until 2019.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers are "recalibrating their focus on" the 2019 free-agency class as they "become more realistic about the franchise's chance of snaring superstars in the free-agent class of 2018."
Shelburne and Wojnarowski noted Los Angeles isn't "abandoning a summer pursuit of stars" but is instead planning to prioritize the 2019 class, which is set to feature the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler.
This is a change in direction, considering the report pointed out there was a "belief" in place the Lakers would cut significant salary in the hopes of landing two maximum-contract players in July.
However, Shelburne and Wojnarowski noted James is reluctant to sign in Los Angeles without another star, and Cousins has a torn Achilles. What's more, George openly discussed his fondness of playing with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony on the Oklahoma City Thunder in an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, pointing to their "brotherhood."
A focus on the 2019 class would take away the pressure to move some of the team's contracts either before Thursday's trade deadline or the June 21 NBA draft.
Los Angeles is also 10-4 in its last 14 games, and focusing on the long term would give the young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma additional time to grow.
If they continue to blossom with more playing time and turn the team into a contender, it will make the Lakers all the more attractive for someone such as Thompson—who is from Los Angeles—or Butler. Leonard is also an interesting case since ESPN's Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright reported there has been a "chilling" of his relationship with the San Antonio Spurs.
While the Lakers haven't been to the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, a long-term plan appears to be coming together as the young core shows positive on-court signs and the possibility of a marquee free-agent signing looms.