Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis now have a full offseason to get healthy after injuries defined their failed championship defense in 2020-21.
When they do come back ready to compete, it’s unclear exactly what the Lakers’ roster will look like around them, so much so that even head coach Frank Vogel is unsure.
Outside of James and Davis, only three players — Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marc Gasol — have a guaranteed contract for the 2021-22 season. Everyone else could be a free agent, and even those three players could have new homes via trade or retirement in Gasol’s case. Next year’s roster could look the exact same, or it could look very different.
The only thing Vogel is certain of is that James and Davis will be at the center of whatever roster the front office ends up building. “Yeah, obviously those two are going to be the core. Like I said, we’ll see how the roster shapes up for next year, but we believe in the group that we have this year. We’d love to have an opportunity to run it back at full strength, but obviously, there’s always going to be tweaks to the roster.
“That stuff will play out over the course of the summer, but we have a system we believe in, a process and a culture that we believe in. Obviously, we want to be basically a great team on both sides of the ball. We had an excellent, excellent defensive year and not good enough on the offensive side of the ball, especially when AD and Bron were out and those things we’ll look at improving in the offseason in terms of the way of our offensive structure and framework. We all have the mindset that we’re not happy how the season ended and we want to have a self-evaluation. Look in the mirror and see how we can do better mindset to improve and be better next year.”
Vogel said that the first 27 games of the season — before Davis ever went down with injury — could be used as evidence on how to best construct the roster. “We just evaluate the individual experiences of each player we have and we rely on the vision of what we would’ve looked like at playoff time if we were at full strength. The best sample size we have is the way we started the season when Anthony [Davis] went down we were 21-6. Second-best record in the NBA. We feel like we have a team that can compete for a championship right now as constructed.
“Does that mean we’ll be back the same? Who knows. That’s going to be up to the front office to decide and where we end up landing with free agents and trades and whatnot, but we believe in the group that we have and if we have the core of Anthony Davis and LeBron James healthy, we’ll build the right supporting cast around those guys and we’ll have a chance to compete for a championship again next year.”
The next few months are absolutely pivotal for the Lakers if they want to continue contending for championships. 2021 did not go as planned, meaning the front office needs to get creative to put themselves back in a position to compete next season.
Running it back is certainly an option. However, in the modern NBA, it’s very difficult to execute successfully. It’s more likely that changes will be made. What’s unclear is whether the changes will be on the fringes or at the core of the roster.
Pelinka discusses adding shooting to the roster
Poor shooting is one of the main things that defined the Lakers’ short-lived playoff run. Because of it, Rob Pelinka had to give his thoughts on adding better shooters to the Lakers roster. “You can never have enough shooting so it’s something that’s always at the top of our mind when we’re building and constructing a roster.
“I think it’s important too, part of successful shooting is having special players that create the shooting space and for us, that comes primarily from LeBron and Anthony.”
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