It’s been two weeks since the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned champions of the NBA and it still doesn’t feel real. However, that feeling euphoria can’t stick around for much longer, at least not within the organization. To put it as bluntly as possible, the Lakers have work to do this offseason.
Not only do they have to negotiate a new contract with Anthony Davis, but they have to decide which of their other free agents they want to retain. Right now, the Lakers only have five players under contract for next season: LeBron James, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker. That number could change if Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo exercise the player options in their contracts, but the expectation is that at least two of them are going to opt out and enter unrestricted free agency.
From a financial standpoint, the Lakers should be able to bring back most of their impending free agents, but if they can’t or just don’t want to, Green doesn’t think that will be the difference between them repeating as championship and not. During a recent interview with Adam Zagoria of Forbes, Green said that the Lakers will be fine as long as James and Davis are one the roster:
“It’s going to be tough because we have so many free agents, with 10 guys that are free agents. Trying to bring everybody back and reconstruct the contracts, it’s going to be difficult, but when you have the nucleus of LeBron and AD — if they bring back AD — that’s pretty much what you need. You don’t need much else around them.”
That logic is hard to argue with, especially after a season in which the Lakers’ supporting cast was criticized for not being enough. As it turns out, the supporting cast got the job done, and on nights where they didn’t, James and Davis were there to clean it up. It’s a good system — other teams should try it some time.
The caveat with that logic, though, is that the players the Lakers bring in need to complement James and Davis as well as the players they signed last season. For example, you can’t just pair Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley with James and expect it to work. I don’t know why I used that specific example — no one would be bold enough to try that.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, one could argue the Lakers would be better off just running it back, but we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that they have a real opportunity to improve their roster via trades and free agency this offseason. The next few months might not be as entertaining as the previous two summers, but there will be no shortage of movement coming from Los Angeles.
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