The Los Angeles Lakers saw a bid for a second straight NBA title come to a disappointing close. The Lakers head into the offseason with much work ahead. As the team moves toward the critical stretch, LeBron James laid out the biggest priority.
LeBron James and Lakers fall disappointingly short in the playoffs
The Lakers saw any hope of repeating as NBA champions diminish after a crushing first-round playoff exit.
Los Angeles succumb to injuries as Davis missed the latter portion of the series against the Suns, resulting in him bowing out after playing five minutes in Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns. Meanwhile, the supporting cast around the two stars struggled to step up with any consistent production.
James suffered the first opening-round playoff exit of his illustrious NBA career. As the Lakers head into the offseason, the four-time league MVP laid out the team’s most crucial task ahead.
LeBron James declares the Lakers’ top priority this upcoming offseason
The Lakers’ early playoff departure puts James in entirely unfamiliar territory.
James disappointingly ended his 18th campaign far from contending for a second straight NBA title. Despite that, the 36-year-old voiced after the Game 6 loss that the team’s biggest priority will be to get Davis healthy.
“I trust Rob, I trust Kurt [Rambis], trust everyone upstairs that does their diligence and our coaching staff and things of that nature,” James said. “Obviously number one thing for us is getting AD healthy. That’s number one. It doesn’t matter what changes we make. We got to get big fella healthy and needs back to where he was before the injury.”
James added that getting his left ankle back fully healthy is also a massive part of the equation, which he voiced that he’s “1000%” confident he will be ready for next season. It’s hard to look past Davis’ injury struggles as he never recaptured his form for extended stretches throughout the past season.
Davis experienced an Achilles-related issue in late January that bled over into February that forced him to miss two months. He played in only 36 out of the possible 72 regular-season games. Meanwhile, his playoff production was anything short of himself in each contest outside Games 2 and 3.
It’s not lost on James how important Davis is to the Lakers becoming championship contenders again. It steps up a critical offseason ahead that the Lakers will need their two stars to get healthy.
Massive offseason decisions ahead in Los Angeles
The Lakers’ front office holds the extreme benefit of building the roster around two of the game’s best talents.
However, lingering questions remain concerning the rest of the roster, with the team currently having only five players under guaranteed contracts for next season. Montrezl Harrell possesses a $9.7 million player option for the 2021-22 campaign that he will likely pick up.
Beyond that, the Lakers have several players such as Dennis Schroder, Talen Horton-Tucker, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, and Markieff Morris headed to free agency. Schroder voiced he wants to return, but the asking price he desires for his next deal may be a bit out of Los Angeles’ range.
The front office will have limited salary-cap space and trade assets, but the team will be busy. James is heading into his 19th season, and the Lakers will want to maximize the window of competing for championships. His contract runs through the 2022-23 campaign, giving the team a window to move all-in with the roster.
Ultimately, all that sets up what should be an intriguing offseason ahead.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.