Thomas trade positions Lakers to chase elite stars, says Magic Johnson
The Los Angeles Lakers will try to acquire two elite players during the next two free agency periods, according to the team's basketball operations president Magic Johnson.
The Lakers this week traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr to Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the Cavaliers' top-three protected 2018 first-round draft pick.
The LA franchise have been tipped to move for the likes of LeBron James and Paul George during free agency this year, and Johnson has indicated the goal of making the playoffs is likely to encourage some eye-catching recruitment activity.
"This is what I came here to do... to create flexibility for our organisation so that one day we can have a superstar or two come to this organisation with our incredible young talent that we have," he said.
"I wouldn't have made the move if I wasn't confident.
"We have got to take the next step. I like our core. I love the way Julius [Randle] is playing right now; this is the best I have seen him play.
"But again, we're still on the outside looking in. No matter how good we've been playing, we're not in the playoffs, we are not one of the top eight teams in the Western Conference. That's just the bottom line.
"So I don't want to stay in this position. I want to have us be in the playoffs, and the only path to that is to add to the roster that we already have.
"I don't want to stay where we are. I don't want to be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. We have to take another step, right? So this move allows us to position ourselves to hopefully take that next step."
The Lakers (23-31) are 11th in the NBA's Western Conference.