After registering one of the worst seasons in living memory, the Los Angeles Lakers are already fully involved in renewing their project to recover their chances of winning the NBA ring. The idea is to do it while maintaining the hard core of the team, led by LeBron James and complemented by Anthony Davisthe two main protagonists of the title in 2020.
According to Darvin Hamnew Los Angeles coach replacing Frank Vogel, Russell Westbrook It is also part of the plan, although there have already been rumors about possible rejected transfers with the point guard as the main protagonist. Look where you look, the franchise needs a miracle I mean a Hollywood blockbuster.
In this week of the 2022 NBA draft, the Lakers have no choice on paper to reinforce their squad. Their eighth this year went to the New Orleans Pelicans and as of 2019, LA has not drafted any rookies into the event (the last one was Talen Horton-Tucker). The only option for the Angelenos would be to buy, at the last minute, a second round to another franchise that wants to sign a transfer with them, an intention that Rob Pelinka confirmed earlier this month.
Then the period will come to negotiate the incorporation of free agents and the time to look for other transfers to reinforce the squad, an urgent need given the results of this course: eleventh classified in the Western Conference with a balance of 33 wins and 49 losses that neither allowed them to dispute play-in to try to get into the playoffs. With Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn having accepted their renewals for one year (player option), the Lakers enter the summer with six players on the roster and figures that are close to the salary limit of the league.
Many questions remain in the air:
What will happen to Russell Westbrook?
Persist or transfer
One of the points the Lakers discussed with their coaching candidates after Vogel’s firing was the Westbrook issue. The value of the player has plummeted after his disastrous season and it will be difficult for them to get rid of him, not without giving up future draft choices, where they are already quite lame right now. For this reason, plan A will be to insist with the base if the flute does not sound and some team takes the bait, an option that enters directly into the scheme as plan B.
The latest rumors have already shown the complexity of the second option, and that is that the Indiana Pacers would have rejected a trade for Malcolm Brogdon in exchange for Westbrook, Horton-Tucker and a first round of 2026.
How will they complete the template?
Seven holes and little salary
The Lakers need, above all, bench depth. Six players are sure to be under signing when next season begins: Russell Westbrook ($47.1 million), LeBron James ($44.4 million), Anthony Davis ($37.9 million), Talen Horton-Tucker ($10.3 million). million), Kendrick Nunn (5.3 million) and Austin Reaves (1.5 million). That leaves seven holes in the squad and very little salary margin to fill it out. Like they did in the old days, Angelenos will likely have to resort to veteran minimum contracts to complete the team … and with the injuries, it’s clear they haven’t fared too well.
Thinking about transfers, the two players with the most market could be Horton-Tucker, 21, and Nunn, 26. The rest would be difficult to place in a positive agreement to strengthen the squad.
Will LeBron renew?
we will know in august
LeBron James has a two-year contract extension offer on the table for $97.1 million. He must accept or reject it before August 4, and if he declines, he will be able to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023. That scenario would also change the prospects of the franchise, which could see its main asset escape free without having had the opportunity to fight again. , with a competitive team, for the ring. If the Akron star doesn’t see significant roster changes, will he be hesitant about what to do in his immediate future?
What options do they have in the market?
6.3 million for a free agent
Yes, only 6.3 million as a mid-level exception are left over for the Lakers to fish in the market. The rest will be veteran deals or the aforementioned difficult trades. That exception could serve, if convinced, to cajole Malik Monk, one of the few players who performed at a more than acceptable level last season under a minimum contract of $1.8 million.
Focus will be the key, as LA got more out of Reaves, an undrafted player, and Stanley Johnson, discarded by his previous franchise, than from veterans like Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington. Will Carmelo Anthony agree to extend his career for another year with the Lakers? Again the answer would go through the movements they can make from Los Angeles.
Will there be talent to fish after the draft?
Trust unselected players
As they did with Austin Reaves last year, the Lakers’ main goal is to find a couple of good talents among the players who are not chosen among the 58 available picks in this Friday’s draft. In pre-draft training, the Lakers have trained names like Javante McCoy (Boston), Keve Aluma (Virgina), Khalifa Diop (Gran Canaria), Jeenathan Williams (Buffalo), Malik Osborne (Florida), Danko Brankovic (Cibona ), Jordan HAll (St. Joseph’s), Cole Swider (Syracuse), Orlando Robinson (Fresno State), Kyler Edwards (Houston), Isaiah Whaley (UConn) and Shareef O’Neal (LSU).
All this because it was clear that they need to add young energy to an aging squad and, with respect to the rest, pray that the veterans endure one more year on a physical level, since it was LeBron’s injuries and especially Davis’s that ended up weighing them down the opportunities to compete in the playoffs in 2022. Seen what has been seen, dreaming of the title is a chimera at this point, and the miracle is not on the horizon either.