Kobe Bryant is now walking around after his catastrophic Achilles injury.
Pau Gasol underwent a successful regenerative procedure on his knees and is expected to make a full recovery.
Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Metta World Peace are all recovering from their respective injuries as well.
Antawn Jamison–though probably not set to return to the Lakers next season–underwent successful surgery on his wrist.
As for the rest of the Lakers, they basically have one key assignment this summer: get healthy.
It was an unbelievably painful 2012-2013 season for Lakers fans to watch, but even more painful for the players whose bodies simply let them down.
Nobody knows what the future holds for these Lakers or their health in the future, but given the same roster–even at their collective respective advanced age–I still like how the team is built.
It just needs a couple tweaks.
First, the Lakers have to re-sign Dwight Howard, of course.
Then, they have to make the decision to keep Pau Gasol, live with his salary and execute the offense through him more; much as they successfully did towards the end of the season.
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Lakers Nation’s own Mark Heisler recently wrote a piece on how the Lakers remaining the way they are and playing at a slower pace is their best option, and I agree 100 percent.
Kobe Bryant, in his exit interview, also voiced his desire for the Lakers to retain Gasol and Howard; explaining that the team went through so much to finally find a way to play well, and blowing up the team would only make them start over. He also expressed his confidence that if the core of the team were to come back healthy next season, that the Lakers could win a championship.
In a perfect world, is it the best option to keep a core of older players together? Absolutely not.
However, given all of the Lakers’ salary commitments and the way the team is built, attempting to overhaul the team this summer and trying to become a young, fast team simply would fall flat.
The Lakers don’t have many tradable pieces, and even if they got rid of Gasol, nobody knows the quality of players they would get in return. Their best bet is to try and rebuild in 2014, if anything.
Simply put, the Lakers need to commit to an identity this summer, and follow through with it.
Maybe they will trade Gasol and come away with some young, athletic talent; forming a new identity more in line with Mike D’Antoni’s style of play. If they don’t trade him though, they need to decide what kind of team they’ll be, and make the correct adjustments to bolster that.
For much of the 2012-2013 season, there simply was no identity.
Then, after the All-Star break (in which the Lakers went 19-7 or .703), they finally decided they were going to slow the pace, play inside-out more, and it actually worked out well.
It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t smooth. It wasn’t cohesive. Shoot, sometimes it was a mystery as to how the Lakers even managed to win a few of those games.
Nonetheless, the Lakers made it work and successfully closed out the regular season, despite a revolving door of injuries to key players.
Next Page: Where The Lakers Must Improve