Preseason 2004-2005: Lakers record: 6-2
Postseason result: Missed Playoffs
On July 14, 2004, the fate of the Los Angeles Lakers changed forever. After winning three consecutive titles at the turn of the decade, the Lakers decided to part ways with Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal and Bryant formed one of the most formidable duos in NBA history, but those two separated after their much-hyped feud.
The Lakers got some complementary players in exchange for O’Neal, with Lamar Odom and Caron Butler heading the list. The Lakers ended up going an impressive 6-2 in the preseason, but in no way did that foreshadow how the Lakers would play in the regular season. Even though fans got to see the Lakers in six out of the eight games, there was not a lot of winning during the regular season.
After 82 games, the Lakers finished at a disappointing 34-48 and landed at the 11th spot in the Western Conference. The one good thing for the pathetic season was that the Lakers ended up in the draft lottery and landed Andrew Bynum later that summer.
Preseason 2003-2004: Lakers record: 3-5
Postseason result: Lost NBA Finals
Much like the Lakers this preseason, the team in 2003-2004 experienced a major roster change during the summer. The Lakers acquired future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton, hoping to once again lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. The two new additions had to get assimilated into the new system and also bond with the Lakers’ current stars, Kobe and Shaq.
The preseason offered the teammates a chance to develop their chemistry and for the most part, they had some success. Although the Lakers ended going below .500, the players made strides in become a cohesive unit. The current Lakers also have to build their camaraderie on the court, but their 0-8 record does not help that cause.
The 2003-2004 Lakers bonded well enough to make it to the NBA Finals with a 56-26 record.