The Los Angeles Lakers are a few days removed from a disappointing early playoff exit. The Lakers have quickly shifted toward gearing up for a critical offseason ahead. As the franchise moves toward a pivotal summer, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have made one firm decision.
Lakers fall well short of NBA title contention
The Lakers entered the 2020-21 season hoping to contend for a second straight NBA title.
However, Los Angeles fell well short of that lofty goal after bowing out in the first round of the playoffs. The team struggled to find any consistency, especially after significant injuries to James and Davis. The two stars managed to return late in the regular season but remained less than fully recovered.
Davis’ injuries in the playoffs put the nail in the coffin, sinking the Lakers’ NBA title aspirations. As the team heads into an early offseason, the two franchise cornerstones may have already made one massive decision.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis just made Lakers fans happy with their first offseason decision
The Lakers‘ early playoff exit quickly shifts the discussion toward offseason plans.
None remains bigger than what James and Davis will do with an extended break to return healthy for another championship push. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the expectation is that the two stars will elect to pass on playing for the United States Men’s Basketball Team at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that both players are recovering from injuries that derailed the Lakers’ NBA title chances. Davis limped through the final few weeks of the season after spending two months sidelined due to an Achilles-related injury.
The 28-year-old suffered a groin injury that he revealed after the Game 6 loss to the Phoenix Suns, and it will take him around two weeks to heal fully. Meanwhile, James wrapped up his 18th season with a high ankle sprain that prevented him from playing at the MVP level he showed before the ailment.
James already hinted at his offseason plans, referencing the upcoming Space Jam 2 movie instead of playing in the 2020 Olympics.
“I think I’m going to play for the Toon Squad this summer instead of the Olympics,” James said via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation.
Although playing for Team USA is a unique experience, James and Davis each possess strong reasons sit out. Even without the two Lakers stars, the roster will have plenty of talent as Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Chris Paul have been linked to participating this summer.
Lakers hold a busy offseason ahead
Beyond James and Davis’ health, the Lakers have several pressing roster decisions ahead.
The front office will look to retool the team after a disappointing playoff departure. Several key players such as Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews, and Markieff Morris will hit free agency. Meanwhile, Montrezl Harrell holds a $9.7 million player option for the 2021-22 campaign that he may elect to decline.
Marc Gasol also voiced uncertainty concerning his future despite being under contract through next season. The Lakers may look to make a significant splash through free agency or a trade. Kyle Kuzma could become a trade piece to help land a star player such as Kyle Lowry or Lillard.
Los Angeles wants to maximize James’ remaining tenure, providing more reason for general manager Rob Pelinka to stay aggressive in building a championship-contending roster. Ultimately, time will tell what lies ahead.