Although the Lakers season is not officially over, their disastrous 2022 series reached another milestone on Tuesday night when the team dropped out of any post-season struggle after losing to the Suns. Los Angeles now doesn’t even have the right to participate in the tournament, which cemented one of the funniest and, frankly, horrific seasons in NBA recent history. Two years ago, this team won the NBA Finals. Now he’s headed for the lottery … except that the lottery selection goes to the Pelicans, who will finish a few games ahead of the Lakers in the West. Due to the fact that the value of Los Angeles for the current state of affairs in the league is almost zero, it is fair to look into the off-season. Here are four big issues the Lakers will face this summer.
Will anyone trade on Russell Westbrook?
The Westbrook deal is not the only reason the Lakers crashed this season, but it was, in fact, the first domino for all subsequent mistakes. The trade with Westbrook not only pushed the Lakers away from what was probably the best move (the acquisition of Buddy Hild), it deprived the team of its depth and forced the front office to fill the list with mostly minimal players. And other than Malik Mank, most of these players didn’t really contribute to the win. Kendrick Nann, Trevor Orissa, Carmela Anthony and Kent Basemore are not exactly the hallmarks of a championship contender.
This offseason, the priority for Los Angeles should be to find someone to take Westbrook. If he can return several pieces in return – even if these players have flaws – it can bring big dividends. The Lakers desperately need youth and shooting (and protection will be a plus). If the Knicks could somehow be persuaded to break up with Alec Berks and Evan Fournier, the Lakers are starting to make a lot more sense on paper around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The ultimate goal of this team should be to find several types of 3-and-D to put around them two stars, instead of one player who is not particularly good at both. Moving Westbrook will be difficult. While his contract is turning into a contract that is coming to an end and should also help the first in the future that the Lakers may move, the team should not expect ideal players in return. However, simply creating a more balanced list will greatly restore this team’s respectability.
In what position will Anthony Davis play?
Part of the problem with building the Lakers registry is that Anthony Davis will still not play central full-time. At best, Los Angeles puts a healthy AD on the top five and surrounds him and LeBron with capable defenders who can spread the word. However, the team has rarely played this way the last two seasons, often opting with limited centers such as Dwight Howard and Deandre Jordan, to moments with a high level of leverage. This has become a constant issue for Davis, and the Lakers need to find a way to reach him. Spending places on the list at centers that do not move the needle limits the front office. If the Lakers are actually committed to restoring that list the right way, a significant step toward success would be to create that list in Davis ’game center vision.
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Do you hold Talen Horton-Tucker?
The Lakers went on to gamble, essentially keeping the THT over Alex Caruso (for tax reasons a group of owners shouldn’t care about that). This game did not pay off. Caruso was perfect next to James and Davis. Horton-Tucker struggled with his shot and wasn’t exactly a defender of the shutdown. And in a showy decision, THT’s minutes became more inconsistent over the course of the season. A popular trading package for the Lakers during the season was a combination of Horton-Tucker and Nan. It would be wise to reconsider this in the summer, if there are willing. These two contracts may be the best opportunity for the Lakers to find a mid-priced veteran, even if they have to make a choice. Nan hasn’t played at all this season, and while some people in the organization may be wondering what might have been, it’s hard to imagine that he’s seriously making a difference. In the fall, LeBron James begins his 20th season. Hoping for the development of a young player is a luxury that the Lakers do not have. Finding vets who actually have something left in the tank should be a priority for the front office. Moving THT may be the best way to attract at least one of these players.
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Who will be the coach?
Frank Vogel somehow survived skating on thin ice, seemingly the entire regular season. But now reports suggest he will most likely not return to the team next year. Vogel has not been an issue this season. He was given an old team that could not play in a defense filled with individuals who needed to be gently managed. Vogel was set up for failure, and that’s exactly what happened. Can the Lakers do better? Maybe. This is far from a guarantee. However, hiring a new coach can be a surge of energy. This man must also be someone who can command the respect of James and Davis and bring them to justice, which Vogel was able to do in the best moments of the team. Hiring this person is not an easy task. Quinn Snyder and Doc Rivers – the two rumored names for the job – would seem like people who could earn at least that much respect. Even if there are no clear upgrades, ultimately, just a change of atmosphere can be worth the risk of getting rid of an experienced coach like Vogel.
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