It’s been a few days since the Los Angeles Lakers 2022-2023 ended in abrupt fashion and the franchise is now looking ahead to the offseason. After starting the season 2-10, the Lakers turned things around after re-shaping their roster at the trade deadline and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Their magical run would end at the hands of a sweep by two-time MVP Nikola Jokić and the top-seeded Denver Nuggets.
While the season should be considered a success in many ways, it ultimately will be looked at as a failure due to expectations on a yearly basis from both the historic franchise and star LeBron James. And yet, there was so much good that came from this weird season including first-year head coach Darvin Ham showing that he was more than capable to handle the responsibilities of the job and the team coming together to make a run on the fly. He kept the team positive during the trying times and showed that even when he made mistakes, he could learn from them.
After bringing in new players such as D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, it gave this team new life. It gave them a sense of competency on the court, and it showed in the results. Los Angeles ended the regular season as one of the best teams across the NBA, leading them to a play-in spot and then a spot in the Conference Finals.
Often times, teams that build at the trade deadline don’t win championships. It takes some time for everyone to gel together and create the kind of chemistry that is needed to bring home a title. During the exit interviews the day after the Lakers were eliminated, the majority of players were in alignment in saying that they believe having a full training camp would result in the team winning the title. General Manager Rob Pelinka echoed the same sentiment, saying that a main goal of the offseason is to keep this core together.
Malik Beasley on the Lakers’ ceiling next season: “I don’t think a team can beat us in a seven-game series if we have this experience and a training camp together.”
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) May 23, 2023
The Lakers enter the offseason with some real questions, including the possible retirement of LeBron James. Guard Austin Reaves and forward Rui Hachimura will both be restricted free agents and all indications are that the Lakers have serious interest in retaining them both. Then there is the question of guard D’Angelo Russell, who just a few weeks ago, was a likely candidate to return but his play in the playoffs raised some question marks about his validity of being apart a title contending team.
Russell looked good in his second stint with the team but there are real concerns about his play in the playoffs. The team may want to upgrade the point guard position with maybe another star player alongside James and Davis. Maybe that looks like Kyrie Irving, a player like Trae Young or even someone that nobody is talking about currently.
However, the most important pieces to retain are Reaves and Hachimura. They formed a nice pairing alongside James and Anthony Davis, giving the Lakers some nice scoring options. The team would be smart to bring both back as they showed just what they could do in the limited time together. Obviously, the team does need to upgrade a few spots if they want to really get over the hump and win another title but bringing these players back would give them a strong start to the summer.
Austin Reaves on his future with the Lakers:
“I want to be here. It feels like home.” pic.twitter.com/ZE6dmJk3by
— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) May 23, 2023
The question now becomes what other moves the Lakers do. Will they continue to build the depth pieces around James and Davis? Will they go out and try for the third star player that they have so desperately wanted?
The answers to these will be coming soon, including whether or not James will be on the team next season. His possible retirement does leave things up in the air for the Lakers but many around the league do believe that James will suit up once the season starts. His passion for the game of basketball and his will to win is still there. He still wants to win big at the highest level and for the sake of the NBA, everyone should be hoping that he comes back.