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What’s to Come for the LA Lakers?

The conclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season has already sparked plenty of questions regarding their offseason. After a disappointing season, the one thing that’s been clear is that changes will be made. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka wasted no time with this process, relieving head coach Frank Vogel of his duties Monday after three seasons and a championship.

Head coach vacancy

Pelinka thanked Vogel for his contribution to the organization in a press conference Monday. He also touched on the time frame in which he would like to hire Vogel’s replacement.

“I think it’s going to be a very methodical process, and I think the principles here are not to pick an end date and say, ‘Hey, we must have someone by this date,’ Pelinka said. “I think we want to find the right person. I think that’s the most important thing. I think all things considered; it would be great to have someone in place by the draft.”

There’s already been plenty of speculation about the coach who will take over. Lakers star LeBron James was reportedly ‘very enthused’ at the idea of Mark Jackson filling the role, according to The Athletic NBA writer Sam Amick.

Jackson Last coached in 2014, helping mold an up-and-coming Golden State Warriors team. He was let go at the end of that season and replaced by Steve Kerr, who would lead the team to three titles over the next four years. While there’s no question of Kerr’s ability as a head coach, just as clear was Jackson’s impact prior to his departure.

Utah coach Quin Snyder has been rumored to be another point of interest despite still being under contract with the Jazz. However, he’s apparently backed off any interest in coaching the Lakers due to their handling of Vogel.

It will be interesting to see how the coaching search plays out, but that’s not all the Lakers desperately need. Youth was limited on this team, and it didn’t help those injuries were such a sore spot – no pun intended.

Photo Credit: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images

Roster moves

So, what reconstructive methods should the Lakers take to ensure a playoff berth in the final season of James’s contract? The answered is layered, of course. But with a healthy James and Anthony Davis (emphasis on the ‘healthy’) still on the roster, it’s hard to imagine another postseason-less year.

In true Lakers fashion, most of their pieces were on one-year deals. The only players remaining under contract, in fact, are Davis, James, Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kendrick Nunn, who missed the entire 2021-2022 season with a knee injury.

Westbrook underachieved by his standards in his first year with the Lakers. This has left many questioning whether he’s a fit with James and Davis. However, the trio only played 21 total games together, which is hardly enough time to develop chemistry.

The Lakers have a big decision regarding Westbrook’s future with the team. Either they gamble on the end of James’s run and bring him back, trade him for a player like Houston’s John Wall, or simply cut him. There may be other options, but they seem few and far between at this juncture.

Horton-Tucker fell short of expectation in his third year with the team. He’s still young and has time to continue improving. However, the Lakers may want to consider utilizing that youth for a piece who will be more reliable soon.

Nunn is a question mark due to his lack of experience with the team. Yet, if you pair his youth and talent with the fact that his cheap contract ends at the end of next season, it makes sense to get him healthy and run it back. He could turn out to be somewhat of a secret weapon.

While James loves experience and feels it’s the best recipe for success, the Lakers will need to be careful. The four-time champion will turn 38 in December, and he’ll need fresher legs on his side to make a deep run.

The next thing to consider – if not the first – is defense. A player like Gary Payton II could be a major pickup for the Purple & Gold. Payton has made a name for himself as an elite defender and athlete this season with the Warriors.

While Payton adds to the Lakers’ perimeter defense, a reunion with big man JaVale McGee could be just what they need on the inside. The tandem of him and Dwight Howard proved to be lethal in the 2020 title season. Howard seems to be slowing down a bit heading into his 19th season. However, McGee is playing a prominent role with the Suns this season. His length still poses problems for offenses all over the league. That inside presence is something the Lakers could certainly use.

Lastly, as difficult as it may be, it would behoove the Lakers to find a way to bring Malik Monk back. Monk was one of few sparks of consistency on the team, and his motor and confidence offensively could make him a key piece on a better-constructed team. The Lakers’ offseason will be among the most exciting to keep an eye on across the league – if not for a game-changing signing, then at least for the storyline of their efforts.

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