The Los Angeles Lakers‘ journey to a second straight NBA title led to a discouraging early playoff exit. The Lakers now head into a critical offseason, where reshaping the roster sits atop the list. Before the team ventures that path, part-owner Jeanie Buss gave the franchise a much-needed boost.
Lakers fall to early playoff exit
The Lakers ventured into this season hoping to capture a second NBA title, but those aspirations quickly unraveled.
The roster became ravaged with nagging injuries coupled with inconsistent play. Los Angeles saw James and Davis return for the stretch before the playoffs, but it was too little too late.
The star big man couldn’t stay healthy in the playoffs as a hyperextended left knee led to a groin strain. Meanwhile, James never fully recaptured his form before his high ankle sprain prevented him from taking his typical dominant command of the game.
The early playoff exit also quickly shifted the attention toward offseason plans, where general manager Rob Pelinka voiced an encouraging notion from ownership.
Jeanie Buss just gave the Lakers the utmost green light to return to NBA title contention
The Lakers‘ early playoff exit underlined the urgent need to adjust the roster to get back into the NBA title picture.
Although it’s only been less than a week since the postseason ousting, the Lakers are already emphasizing the importance of the upcoming summer. During exit interviews, general manager Rob Pelinka voiced that team president and part-owner Jeanie Buss privately expressed that she is willing to pay the luxury tax to compete for another championship.
“Jeanie and the ownership group has empowered the front office to do one thing and that’s to smartly build a roster to win championships,” Pelinka said during his exit interview via Silver Screen and Roll. “That’s been the hallmark of this team since Dr. Buss acquired it, and continues to be today. Clearly all 30 NBA teams are confined by a salary cap, so we’ve got to be smart about how we put all the puzzle pieces together, but there is only one goal, and it’s doing it smartly to have a championship-caliber team.
Buss’ all-in approach certainly helps put Pelinka at ease with constructing a roster that can compete for an NBA title. Being on the same page financially will allow the front office to operate on James’ timetable.
Meanwhile, Buss is giving management the freedom to move with what they believe is best moving forward. It also demonstrates that she is bracing for the hefty expenses that come with building a championship contender. All of that sets the table for a busy offseason ahead.
A major roster overhaul may lie ahead
The Lakers’ playoff shortcomings came about for many reasons, ranging from injuries to subpar play from the supporting cast.
However, the Lakers don’t possess the time to mess around with the roster as James enters his 19th season while Davis will play the second year of his five-year, $190 million deal. Los Angeles wants to make the most of the four-time league MVP’s remaining tenure and stellar play.
The front office may look to move on from a few key players through free agency. Dennis Schroder’s first year experienced many bumps along the way. The Lakers initially expressed strong interest to ink him to a lucrative extension, but he elected to turn down the reported four-year, $84 million deal.
Schroder sang a different tune after the Game 6 loss to the Suns, stating that he wants to return to Los Angeles to compete for an NBA title. The organization may not feel the same way, as the team grew frustrated with his inconsistent play.
The Lakers likely hold every intention of bringing back Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker to grow and become more significant contributors. Montrezl Harrell has control over his future with the $9.7 million player option. Still, given his increasingly diminished rotation, he may elect to decline it and test free agency.
Pelinka may also likely venture into the trade market to gauge the interest in Kyle Kuzma. Previous reports indicated that the team attempted to move him before last season’s trade deadline.
Ultimately, the Lakers have many different pathways options ahead, and it’s a matter of them choosing what’s best for the team’s immediate future.