The Los Angeles Lakers want to put another disappointing season behind them quickly. The team finished with nine more wins (26) in comparison to Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour (17) and have improved in some areas, but have yet to take that crucial step back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
With a new regime led by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, the Lakers could shake things up this summer with trades or additions in NBA free agency. Luol Deng, currently the highest-paid player on the Lakers, thinks there will be quite a few changes on the way, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“I believe there will be a lot of changes,” Deng said. “When changes happen, if I’m one of the changes that happen early, clearly I can’t see myself with any input on how I would fit in. But if I’m one of the late guys to be moved, I can always look at the team and have a discussion if we both agree we fit in better.”
Deng, who signed with the Lakers last summer, is coming off the worst season of his NBA career. The veteran forward struggled in Luke Walton’s system as he had a difficult time playing small forward in a role he wasn’t accustomed to finishing with a career-low 7.6 points per game while shooting a dismal 38.7 percent from the floor.
Rookie Brandon Ingram eventually took over the starting role at the three spot sending Deng to the bench. Deng was ultimately shut down for the season along with fellow veterans Nick Young and Timofey Mozgov with the playoffs out of reach and the coaching staff wanting more time to develop the young players.
As for changes, the Lakers brass could do a number of things during the offseason. Johnson and Pelinka are highly motivated to improve the roster and will have their opportunities.
The new front office duo could explore trade scenarios for a star player like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Along with potentially trying to bring in a proven star via trade, the team will likely attempt to lure a star like Blake Griffin in free agency come July.
Needless to say, it will be an active offseason for the Lakers as the new regime tries to right the ship after four straight losing seasons without a playoff berth.