After Tim DiFrancesco resigned as Strength and Conditioning coach in early May, I was very much interested in who the team would find to replace him. After all, DiFrancesco had earned a lot of support within the Lakers and under the previous front office, and when you add how pivotal a role the person in that position plays, getting this specific hire right is important.

Well, the Lakers announced today they have found that person, naming Gunnar Peterson as their new Director of Strength and Endurance Training.

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The off-season is a time to remake and build up a roster and as a team that has missed the playoffs four straight years the Lakers are a team that needs some improving. Some of that will come from the internal development of recently drafted players, but the rest will come from player acquisition and swaps via the draft, free agency, and trade market.

With that, we recently detailed the types of players/skill sets the Lakers should be looking to add. And we did this using a classic venn diagram:

As I wrote, the hope is to get as many players on the roster as possible who have these skills. But, I know, even this request requires a bit more clarification.

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On Monday night I joined Mo Dakhil on The Jumpball Podcast to talk all things Lakers. Among the topics discussed: the draft, which prospects fit best, the importance of this off-season for D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, what team building approach the front office should take, and more.

After talking Lakers, we also got into the playoffs, talking the conference finals, whether Boston has any chance to make it a series against the Cavs, the end of the Spurs, and the dominance being displayed by the Warriors. I really enjoyed our discussion and would encourage you to give it a listen:

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What you see here is a venn diagram. It is a simple thing you are likely familiar with. You probably used these in elementary school to learn about all types of things.

If you’re not familiar, well, each circle represents a quality and the overlapping portions of those circles means whatever person/place/thing you’re applying the diagram to has more than one of those qualities. The sweet spot is that small triangle looking part in the middle where all three circles overlap.

Got it? Good.

Now, the venn diagram above represents player traits I think are important for any player the Lakers acquire moving forward. Again, this is pretty straight forward, but if you have questions about this, here’s why:

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Considering he’s not even a member of the Lakers, we’ve written plenty about Paul George in these parts. I guess that what happens when there is, supposedly, a mutual affection between team and player to the point that the rumor mill continues to churn.

And churn it does.

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You will not find a more divisive member of the Lakers today than D’Angelo Russell. Opinions of him run the spectrum of hot takes, with full throated endorsements and dissents colliding each day wherever you are. There’s not a single player who inspires as much debate, no, belief that they’ve pegged him not just for what he is, but what he will be as a player.

A quick example: This past Saturday I was checking into a hotel in the Bay Area and one of the employees who handles valet parking saw me rocking my Mitchell and Ness Lakers hat. He asked me if I was a “real” fan or not. I chuckled and said I was legit and then he peppered me with qualifiers — “Real like you’re nervous about the lottery on Tuesday?” Yes, I said. “Real like you didn’t want the Lakers to draft D’Angelo Russell?” — whoa there, buddy. “He’s got a terrible first step, doesn’t pass well…” I stopped him there.

This is how it is with Russell. Like an apparition, you either see it or you don’t. And no matter if you’re on the pro or con side, the person who doesn’t see it has instantly lost some credibility with you.

Fast forward to today and there are rumblings about Russell’s status with the Lakers. After the team retained their pick and the prospects of Lonzo Ball (or, in what would be a minor miracle, Markelle Fultz) becoming a Laker is now perfectly plausible, Russell’s name is starting to be muttered in the same sentence with words like expendable. The reasoning goes something like “who needs Russell now that you’re going to get Ball? Ball is the PG of the future, not Russell, trade him for someone better!”*

Full stop.

This is a mistake.

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Listen. No one is going to credibly argue the Lakers weren’t wildly successful at Tuesday’s draft lottery. Rather than surrendering their 2017 1st round pick to the 76ers and, by domino effect and legacy of the Dwight Howard trade, their 2019 1st round pick to the Magic, the Lakers retain both.

Just having these two picks back in hand opens up opportunities and scenarios previously closed off. If the Lakers want to patiently rebuild, they now have two more 1st rounders (including this year’s #2 overall selection) in their coffers. If they want to try to contend now, they’ve added a top asset this summer as ammunition they can leverage alongside they young players they’ve added in recent years.

Solely from this perspective, the Lakers have made out like bandits and are now staring at a wide open field to chart their path back towards competitive basketball.

That said, the Lakers still have a penance to pay for those trades for Steve Nash and Howard. So, even though they undoubtedly were a winner on Tuesday, an accounting of what they still owe is also in order.

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I’m not sure if you heard, but THE LAKERS KEPT THEIR PICK. Even more, they moved up a slot into the #2 selection, hurdling the Suns who fell to 4th while the Kings (who will send their pick to the 76ers in a pick swap) jumped into the top 3. It was a pretty amazing turn of events that opens up a multitude of team building avenues that would have been closed off if the Lakers had fallen out of the top 3.

It is in the aftermath of all this, then, that I serve up to you our latest podcast. In this episode, Pete and I discuss the ramifications of the Lakers getting the #2 pick, get into whether they should keep or trade the pick (Paul George figures heavily into this conversation), and then start to dive in on some of the players at the top of the draft.

It’s a good conversation powered by pure joy. Click through to listen to the entire convo.

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