Following a disappointing season that ended with LeBron James having a losing record for the first time since his rookie year, the Los Angeles Lakers will go into the summer looking to make some changes to their roster.
However, in spite of the team’s disappointing record, Lance Stephenson told Bill Oram of The Athletic believes that the Lakers would be a contending team if they ran it back with the same roster next season:
“Man, I don’t know,” Stephenson said. “But I feel like this team right here, healthy, we had a shot. We would have had a shot, so why not give us another shot? … This team could do it. I just think we need more time together.”
JaVale McGee agreed with Stephenson’s sentiment, but understands the chances of that happening are slim-to-none, even if you take into account the amount injuries the team suffered:
“I think it’s true, but I think it’s probably not what’s going to happen,” McGee said. “It’s the NBA, so people don’t take, ‘Oh, they got injured, that’s probably why.’ No. They take it as, ‘It didn’t work.’ So I doubt they bring back the exact same group, but anything’s possible.
“The injuries we’ve had this year. … That’s crazy. It’s nothing I’ve seen to where how many people are getting injured. Which forces us to play different lineups and play totally different every other month.”
To some extent, Stephenson has a reason to feel the way he does. The highlight of the Lakers’ season was when they beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Christmas Day, earning them the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. At that time, they looked like the team you didn’t want to see in the first round.
Unfortunately, that same game was when LeBron James suffered the groin injury that ultimately led to the Lakers falling out of the playoff picture.
Could the Lakers sneak into the playoff with the same roster next year? With good health, probably, but injuries are part of the game, and the existing roster wasn’t designed to weather the storm that came to them. This summer, they’re going to need a bigger boat, with a new crew to support it.