The Los Angeles Lakers could create as much as $70 million in cap space this offseason following their trade of Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavaliers.
The Lakers have interest in pursuing LeBron James and Paul George this offseason, or members of the 2019 class in the following summer.
"I wouldn't have made the move if I wasn't confident," Magic Johnson said. "Still the same [confidence]. We have got to take the next step. I like our core. I love the way Julius [Randle] is playing; this is the best I have seen him play. ... But again we are still on the outside looking in. No matter how good we have been playing, we are not in the playoffs, we are not one of the top eight teams in the west. ... 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 are building around a core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
"There are so many ways you can use that and of course the obvious way is in July of 2018 and July of 2019, we now have real 100 percent space to do two max players if that is what we decide to do or one in 2018 and then following it up with another one in 2019," Rob Pelinka said. "So the flexibility is really amazing.
"If you break it down and study the cap, we feel like we are the most strongly situated franchise in the NBA in terms of where our cap stands."
The Lakers hope to add another late first round talent as they did last June in Kyle Kuzma.
"If you look at teams that are doing really well right now, if you look at the Boston Celtics in the east, they had flexibility to take advantage of a very unique situation that happened in the offseason. We can't talk about specific players' names," Pelinka said as Johnson covered his mouth in reference to the team being fined twice for violating anti-tampering rules. "They were in a position to take advantage of an unexpected unique opportunity that has led them to being an elite team. We now are in that position as the Lakers, we weren't before the deals we made. And those opportunities will come. We know that.
"Let's face it, in this league, you can't have an elite team if you don't have the elite players," Pelinka added with Johnson nodding his head. "So that has to be the strategy if you want to be elite."