It has been a week since we have seen the Los Angeles Lakers on an NBA basketball floor. After much discussion regarding their injury troubles and lack of rest, it seems that the truth has now managed to settle in – the Lakers had a disappointing season.
Yes, Anthony Davis was barely available for the Playoffs, and LeBron was visibly a shell of himself after the high ankle sprain, but to get beat down the way they did comes down to two things – lack of effort and focus. Luckily for its fans, the Lakers organization is already looking forward to next season, and according to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, the objective remains the same – build a championship team.
Despite Pelinka having two of the top five players in the league in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, flanked by a roster of players that include some from their bubble championship team and other champions of the past, this year was a disappointment. The contract situations of many of these players will make this quite the offseason for Rob.
As it stands, the Lakers have 6 upcoming free agents in Dennis Schroeder, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Talen Horton-Tucker, Markieff Morris, and potentially Montrezl Harrel, who has a player option for next year. This means that six of the ten players that featured significantly for the Lakers this season will have the opportunity to sign new contracts in free agency.
The other problem? Approximately 115 million dollars in cap space is already spoken for in favor of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma. If you want to win, you better be ready to pay some luxury tax.
“I think next year of course, hopefully with all of our fans being able to come back and be a part of the building, we owe them the work to start the process of retooling and having a championship-caliber team that can do special things next year, and that’s the driving passion and there’s alignment there between Jeanie, the front office, the coaches and our players that that will always be the goal.” – Rob PelinkaRob Pelinka, CBS Sports
There is one angle that Pelinka has yet to speak of, and while it is too early even to explore that option, the way the Lakers’ season ended should provide some insight into what the team truly needs. Anthony Davis is, without a doubt, a generational talent. Still, after another injury-plagued season, it might be time to start questioning your appetite for the risk that his health concerns only get worse and go for a safer option. Simply put, do you opt for more durable players, given that AD’s talent is of no use to you if he is not available to play alongside LeBron James? The moment the Blazers lost, speculation about “What if Dame asks out?” started. One of the only trades that would even come close to making sense would be AD for Dame.
The more realistic option is to improve the roster around LeBron and AD. Pelinka has to do a better job than this year if they want to be back in contention next season. Only this time, he has less maneuvering room with the cap and more competition for good players.
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