Thanks to their success and then Kobe Bryant’s popularity, the Lakers had a player in every All-Star game from 1996 to 2016.
The streak ended this year, but with Los Angeles hosting next year’s All-Star game, there’s pressure on the Lakers to produce another All-Star.
And it’s coming from the top.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss on Forbes Sports Money, as transcribed by Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
“Next season Los Angeles is hosting the NBA All Star game at Staples Center and I’m concerned we won’t have an All Star on the team,” Buss said on a podcast with Forbes Sports Money. “That would break my heart.”
The Lakers’ top young players – D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram – don’t look anywhere near All-Star caliber. Even collectively, it’s unlikely one makes it next year.
Does this put pressure on Magic Johnson to trade for or sign an All-Star?
Johnson has suggested a three-to-five-year timeline to get back on track, which would suggest patiently rebuilding. I’m unconvinced the Lakers could persuade a likely All-Star to sign with them this summer. The only other option would be trading for an All-Star – which would require breaking up the young core.
The Lakers can change their leadership, but the same present-vs.-future debate persists.