D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle Face Challenge That Marquee Stars Have Spurned

D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle spent their week at the Las Vegas Summer League trying to find their sea legs. But a much larger challenge lies ahead—these future stars will be largely responsible for restoring their team to its former glory.

Talk about pressure.

But that’s the simple reality of where the Los Angeles Lakers are in the current NBA landscape—it’s the vacation destination that still gets lip service but doesn’t attract an A-list crowd. 

Headliners that were courted this summer but declined to hop aboard, include LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe .

Los Angeles has been caught in a catch-22 cycle in recent years, aging upward during its championship era before ultimately stripping down to one main asset. Kobe Bryant is the lone holdover from better days, and other established stars have not been quick to join him.

Without elite upgrades, management has resorted to cost-cutting ragtag rosters, rendered even more ineffectual through a seemingly endless injury curse. What has resulted from years of downward-trending seasons, however, is back-to-back trips to the draft lottery for just the second time in franchise history.

And without marquee free agents riding to the rescue, it’s going to be up to the new generation to set the tone.

Russell and Randle will get considerable assistance from All-NBA Rookie first-team selection Jordan Clarkson, as well as other recent draftees and young bloods.

And of course, the Lakers won’t be solely powered by NBA neophytes this season—not if superstar Bryant has anything to say about it. There can be little doubt, however, that the Mamba, in his 20th season, represents glories past, not those that are yet to come.

It’s not as if the front office has completely shot blanks during this summer’s free-agenc...

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