The 2020-21 season was disappointing for the Los Angeles Lakers. After LeBron James and Anthony Davis won the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat, the two All-Stars couldn’t get past the first round in this year’s playoffs, as they lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games.
Big changes are likely in store for the Lakers this offseason. General manager Rob Pelinka could look to upgrade the roster via free agency and trades, and one report already has a former MVP linked to LeBron and Davis.
Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis got hurt in 2020-21
Neither LeBron nor Davis played more than 45 games in 2020-21 due to injuries. The King played in 45, while the Brow only appeared in 36.
With their two players sidelined for a bevy of games, the Lakers won just 42 games in the regular season and finished with the seventh-best record in the Western Conference. They had to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament to make the postseason, where they faced Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and the Suns.
The Lakers lost Game 1 by nine points. However, they won Games 2 and 3 to take a 2-1 series lead behind LeBron and Davis. It looked like they were on their way to advancing to the second round, but the injury bug wouldn’t leave Davis alone.
In Game 4 at Staples Center, Davis suffered a groin injury and had to leave the contest. The Suns won to even up the series at 2-2 and never looked back. They won Games 5 and 6, handing LeBron his first first-round playoff loss.
In the Lakers’ Game 5 loss, starting point guard Dennis Schroder had the worst game of his life. He finished with zero points on 0-of-9 shooting from the field. There are rumors that both sides are looking to move on from each other, meaning LeBron and Davis could be in need of a new floor general.
If the Lakers and Schroder part ways, Pelinka could sign a veteran point guard who has not only won an MVP Award but has played with LeBron before and has a close relationship with Davis.
Lakers could sign Derrick Rose
According to Evan Massey of NBA Analysis Network, the Lakers could sign Derrick Rose this summer. The 2010-11 MVP, who played for the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks in 2020-21, becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
In 50 games with the Pistons and Knicks, Rose averaged 14.7 points and 4.2 assists. He took his game to another level in the 2021 playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, putting up 19.4 points and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 47.6% from the field and 47.1% from beyond the arc. That is certainly production the Lakers could have used against the Suns from the point guard spot.
Rose played 16 games with LeBron on the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2017-18 season before he was traded. The partnership didn’t work due to Rose’s inability to space the floor and stay healthy. He got taken out of the air in the second game of the season versus the Milwaukee Bucks by Greg Monroe and developed bone spurs in his ankle.
Since getting traded by the Cavs and released by the Utah Jazz, Rose has improved his 3-point shot. He shot 37.0% from deep with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2018-19 and 41.1% with the Knicks in 2020-21. With that said, LeBron and Rose could possibly co-exist on the Lakers since James’ teams usually thrive on offense when there are reliable shooters around him. Plus, Rose is a gifted scorer and driver, and the more playmakers around LeBron, the better.
Davis and Rose have a close relationship. They both grew up in Chicago and could be deadly together in the pick-and-roll game. Assuming they don’t re-sign Schroder, the Lakers have to decide if adding Rose to the mix will give them the spark they need at the point guard spot to compete for a title next season.
However, it won’t matter who is playing point guard for them if LeBron and Davis aren’t healthy.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis must use offseason to rest and regroup
LeBron and Davis won’t play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics. It’s a good decision by both superstars since they need to rest this offseason and regroup for 2021-22.
The Lakers will only compete for a title next season if LeBron and Davis are at 100% and playing like MVPs. Even if Rose decides to join the Purple and Gold and plays well, his presence alone won’t make the Lakers elite. LeBron and Davis must duplicate what they did in 2019-20 by playing elite on both sides of the floor.
Health is the only thing holding LeBron and Davis back. When they are healthy, they are two of the best players in the NBA. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back next season after a disappointing end to their 2020-21 campaign.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.