Pressure to sign elite player magnified after Knicks beat Lakers to the punch

The Los Angeles Lakers are facing pressure from their superstars to add another elite player. The Mikal Bridges to the Knicks trade only adds to the pressure.
Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers
Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The New York Knicks have officially gotten the 2024 NBA offseason off to a rousing start. While the Los Angeles Lakers continue to weigh their options, the Knicks have acted quickly to make a splash that is sure to impact countless teams around the NBA.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Knicks have acquired Mikal Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade.

The 50-win Knicks will now look to end a championship drought that has exceeded 50 seasons.

In theory, this trade does little to impact the Lakers. Bridges wasn't expected to be on Los Angeles' trade radar this summer, albeit as a player who would've fit perfectly alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Austin Reaves.

There's an indirect impact, however, that boils down to one simple fact: Davis and James want the Lakers to go star-hunting this summer, and Rob Pelinka has a different vision in mind.

Seeing the Knicks aggressively pursue a star of their own is certain to rekindle that internal debate.

Mikal Bridges trade could create sense of urgency for Lakers

Pelinka is reportedly interested in creating a deeper and more balanced roster with his offseason moves. In order to do so, the Lakers general manager is looking to prioritize depth over star power when constructing potential trades.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Davis and James appear to have a different idea as to how the Lakers can properly build around them—and it all boils down to finding a third star.

"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."

After watching the Knicks go all-in on Bridges, it's fair to wonder if Davis and James' commitment to that vision has grown even stronger.

Los Angeles has been linked to a growing list of big names in trade rumors. That includes Atlanta Hawks guards Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant, and Utah Jazz scorer Collin Sexton.

Cleveland Cavaliers guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell have also been mentioned as potential targets, but it appears they're no longer on the market.

With options aplenty and superstars who are eager to see another big name added to the roster, the Lakers must decide how to proceed. In the aftermath of the Bridges trade, it's become more challenging to say no to Davis and James.

Regardless of what the Lakers ultimately decide to do, what's clear is that draft picks are hot commodities in trade discussions—and Pelinka has three future first-round selections at his disposal.

The 2024 NBA Draft is quickly becoming a turning point in the Pelinka era of Lakers basketball.