Conflicting visions can't deter Lakers from responsibly building roster

The Los Angeles Lakers seems to have a difference of opinion on how to build an improved roster. That can't stop them from being responsible.
Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers
Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are reaching the proverbial roster-building crossroads. Anthony Davis and LeBron James continue to rank among the best duos in the NBA, but the sense of urgency to build around them is complemented by the realization that the future has been disregarded in the process.

With the 2024 NBA Draft arriving and free agency not far behind, it appears as though an internal struggle over how to recover from those decisions is beginning to take hold.

Davis and James led the Lakers to a championship in 2019-20 and a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2022-23. Unfortunately, Los Angeles has missed the playoffs once and lost in the first round twice between their other three seasons together.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Davis and James believe that the Lakers should go all-in on adding another elite player to the roster.

"James has the leverage that comes with his forthcoming free agency, as he has until Saturday to decide whether to pick up his $51.4 million player option or opt out and sign a new deal (with the Lakers or elsewhere). Davis, meanwhile, has the organizational capital that comes with being a 31-year-old, nine-time All-Star who is signed through the 2027-28 season. And if the franchise cornerstones had their way, league sources say, the Lakers would prove their desire to win this week by going all-in for another elite player."

This wouldn't have made too many waves had a previous report not been released that general manager Rob Pelinka would prefer to prioritize depth over star power this offseason.

Lakers and their superstars disagree about roster strategy?

Los Angeles is in a unique position with a 31-year-old franchise player and a 39-year-old co-star who have already delivered a title. It's made even more uncommon because of the fact that both Davis and James have missed considerable time due to injuries during their respective tenures.

Davis played 76 games in 2023-24, while James appeared in 71, but their struggles to overcome injuries likely fuel their preference of adding a third star.

Los Angeles has the assets to do so, including three future first-round draft picks that can be traded. It also has salaries that could conceivably be moved, albeit while belonging to valued players such as Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Gabe Vincent.

Acquiring a third star with salary cap rules that aim to prevent the construction of a quality roster around a big three, however, have complicated the process of going all-in on an elite player.

This has Los Angeles at the aforementioned crossroads. It's certainly understandable for Davis and James to want the Lakers to go all-in on a rapidly closing championship window, especially after the Boston Celtics won a title with a star-studded core of their own.

That roster took years to construct, however, and was built around two drafted players and several key contributors who were acquired at various points of the process.

The Lakers, meanwhile, would be going against their outlined vision of creating depth around their stars in an effort to play in a more balanced manner. Head coach JJ Redick made it clear at his press conference that he doesn't feel the team is too far off from achieving that goal.

As the Lakers weigh their options on how to realize their championship dreams, however, it seems Pelinka and the franchise players have a difference of opinion.