Many factors played into the Los Angeles Lakers’ catastrophic 2021-22 season, exposing the errors committed by each of the franchise’s departments.
The front office dismissed head coach Frank Vogel with Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka justifying the decision by citing the need of finding a “strong voice” to lead the coaching staff.
But Pelinka acknowledged that the roster his front office put together last summer “did not work.” Among the most characteristic features of the 2021-22 Lakers was the group’s average age of nearly 32 years old. No other NBA team entered the season with an older roster.
Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob appears to think that the veteran-heavy profile of L.A.’s squad played a part in the Purple and Gold’s failure last season, taking a dig at organizations for going “all-in” on older players, per The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami:
“There are a couple teams, I’m not going to say who, there’s some other teams that went all-in on older players. And older players do get injured. That’s the thing you have to remember. Suppose we had made a trade, traded away all our youth, for I don’t know, you name the guy, and they’re injured, out for the year. Anytime you’re over 30, 32, 35, these people get injured. It’s data.”
Injuries did derail the Lakers’ season. The 37-year-old LeBron James notably missed 26 games in 2021-22. However, Carmelo Anthony — who’s of the same age as James — was one of L.A.’s most durable players, making 69 appearances during the campaign.
Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Anthony Davis missed over half of 2021-22 games, featuring in just 40.
Dwight Howard thinks he can ‘couple’ years left in career; wants to return to Lakers
Dwight Howard, who is 36, racked up 60 appearances in 2021-22. However, the center missed many games due to the Lakers’ commitment to small-ball rather than injuries.
Still, Howard wants to return to L.A. next season, as he thinks he still has a couple years more in him.
“Why do I want to leave? I want to be cemented somewhere. I love being here. I love the fans. I have a good time,” Howard said during his exit interview.
“I really want an opportunity where I can really go out with a bang (laughs). I’ve only got a couple of years left, so I want an opportunity where I can go out and show my skills and talent and do it in the right way, but also win. I feel like I deserve it.”
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