At various points last season, the Lakers pushed the boundaries of how much physical harm human eyes can withstand while still being able to function after recovering. So much damage was done to the makeup of the team that Rob Pelinka essentially chose to punt the second half of the season after deciding not enough could’ve been done to fix his mistakes.
Honestly, finding a way to turn a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on it into an unwatchable mess is almost an accomplishment in its own right. So, bravo, I guess?
And yet, if the Lakers aren’t able to find a trade partner to move Russell Westbrook, an argument can be made this team might be worse than last year’s group. At the very least, they aren’t noticeably better, which seems like a bit of a problem, given that last year’s group won only 33 games.
Now, sure, one would hope for more than 56 games from James and 40 from Davis. If they aren’t more available, none of the moves made this offseason would be enough to overcome those absences. And yes, Darvin Ham could theoretically be an upgrade over Frank Vogel, whose refusal to effectively adapt to the roster he was given legitimately hampered any efforts to overcome Pelinka’s poor offseason decisions.
But the Lakers are still incredibly guard-heavy. They still lack two-way wings. James is the best shooter on the roster. Malik Monk was probably the team’s third-best player last year and he currently plays in Sacramento. The good news is the Lakers replaced him with Lonnie Walker IV, who is essentially a similar player without the outside shooting capabilities.
Oh, and Russell Westbrook is still on the team, so there’s always that, too.
In a way, it’s a good thing so much attention is being spent on whether they’ll be able to trade for Kyrie Irving, because close looks at this roster don’t inspire much confidence at all.
There’s still plenty of time between now and the start of training camp to figure some of this stuff out. The Lakers as an organization are on the record having said they aren’t done this offseason. To their credit, they recognized how last year’s team lacked youth and athleticism, and have thoroughly addressed both issues.
But if the Lakers were ever going to seriously give James one last shot at a title in his prime, they were going to have to get demonstrably better than they were a season ago, and that simply hasn’t happened to this point. They owe it to fans, themselves, him and the sport to do whatever is necessary to fix last summer’s failures. Until they do, don’t look too closely, in case your eyes haven’t fully healed from last season.
This week in the “Lakers Lounge,” Harrison Faigen and I discussed this, the Knicks’ closed door policy with media, and his cat plotting his painful downfall.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.