While it may seem like the Los Angeles Lakers always have their hopes, there are reasons to think this could be a monumental offseason for the franchise.
The puzzle pieces are seemingly all in place to beef up this roster in a big way. The purple-and-gold possess ample cap space, intriguing trade chips and a first-round NBA draft pick, or perhaps the necessary tools to plot this team's first post-Kobe Bryant path to title contention.
Granted, a lot needs to go right for that happen, but the optimism is palpable and far from unfounded.
Given this summer's stakes, it's little surprise the rumor mill is rife with Lakers' buzz. Let's break down the latest.
Lakers Seeking Kawhi Trade
Kawhi Leonard is 26 years old and in possession of a career resume featuring an NBA Finals MVP, a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards and a scoring average of 25.5 points per game from his last healthy season.
He'd be a logical trade target for anyone.
But he should especially pique the Lakers' interest. The L.A. native would not only give the club a needed centerpiece, his arrival should make it immensely more attractive to other elite targets.
If he's made available in a trade, the Lakers want in on the bidding, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
For now, though, that's a massive if.
Wojnarowski reported the Spurs "remain resistant to trades." That should be expected, since Leonard's appeal to the Lakers is no different than it is to his current club.
That said, the situation certainly bears monitoring.
Leonard, who can opt out of his contract next summer, just completed an injury-riddled, high-tension season. He's expected to set a meeting with Spurs skipper Gregg Popovich "sooner than later," per Wojnarowski, with those talks perhaps determining Leonard's availability.
Lonzo, Kuzma Asked To Tone It Down
The ongoing social-media roasting between Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball may have reached a fever pitch.
Kuzma naturally fired back through his preferred medium:
While the good-natured ribbing seems nothing more than two friends having fun, the Lakers have reportedly intervened nonetheless.
The organization has talked to both players about backing off of their public barbs, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk.
"Though Kuzma and Ball are close friends, the Lakers had grown concerned about the increasingly personal nature of some of the recent roasting between two of their young stars, sources told ESPN," the pair reported.
Lakers "Super Infatuated" With Draft Prospect
Zhaire Smith spent the past year boosting his draft stock due to elite athleticism, swarming defensive effort and offensive potential.
The Lakers not only noticed Smith's ascension, they've reportedly developed an infatuation, sources told HoopsHype's Bryan Kalbrosky:
Bryan Kalbrosky @BryanKalbrosky
Sources: The Lakers have met with Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith "several times" and are "super infatuated" with his potential fit with the team. But as noted by @KevinOConnorNBA, they would likely have to trade up to select him. More on @hoopshype: https://t.co/Zlqs6OM3L6 #LakeShow
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor also said Smith "is the name that I've heard that [the Lakers] are very high on."
Getting Smith could be a challenge, though. The Lakers' lone first-rounder in the draft on June 21 is the 25th selection, while Smith is projected to come off the board well before that.
But that doesn't mean L.A. is entirely out of the running.
O'Connor reported hearing the Lakers are either attempting to add a mid-first-rounder or move up from 25. And the Athletic's Michael Scotto recently identified the Denver Nuggets (14th pick), Washington Wizards (15th) and Milwaukee Bucks (17th) as "teams in win-now mode that could dangle their picks as trade bait."