The Los Angeles Lakers have a very high bar set for the 2019-20 season.
In fact, according to general manager Rob Pelinka, it’s championship-or-bust.
“For us, anything short of a championship is not success,” Pelinka told reporters on a conference fall on Friday, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
Despite the addition of LeBron James, the Lakers struggled immensely last season. They finished with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs, marking the first time since 2005 James hasn’t played in the postseason. He played in just 55 games for the Lakers, too, due to multiple injuries.
After some major offseason moves, however, the Lakers are in a much better position to accomplish Pelinka’s goal.
The Lakers struck a deal to acquire New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis and added Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins. Along with Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, too, filling out their roster after losing a significant chunk of their youth to the Pelicans — including Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram.
Despite those moves, a trip to the NBA Finals still isn’t guaranteed by any means. The Western Conference is loaded with talented teams, which will make a tough path to a title for the Lakers. It will even be a battle to make it out of Southern California, as the Los Angeles Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in their own blockbuster deals last week.
The Lakers currently have the second-best odds to win the title next season, tied with Milwaukee Bucks at 9-2, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Clippers are slightly ahead of them, while the Houston Rockets, Warriors, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets are close behind.
2019-20 NBA Championship updated
LAL, Mil 9/2
Hou, Phi 8/1
Bkn, SAS, Ind 40/1
Tor, Sac 80/1
Mia, NO, Orl 100/1
NYK, Atl, Chi, Det 200/1
Min, Mem, Phx 300/1
Cha, Wsh, Cle 1000/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) July 12, 2019
Clearly, it’s still anybody’s race in the West.
Still, Lakers fans should be pleased with Pelinka’s goal. If nothing else, that’s exactly the attitude a general manager should have after an offseason full of blockbuster moves that rattled the NBA landscape.
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