With things going...less than ideal for the Lakers this season, it’s easy to look back at the offseason and wonder if the Lakers took the wrong approach. At the time, nobody doubted that going for continuity and bringing the bulk of their roster back was, at worst, a good decision.
Given the benefit of hindsight, should the Lakers have gone a different route? A recent report lays out what could have been a different path.
Here’s the latest reports and rumors.
LeBron, Kyrie wanted to team up
Kyrie Irving’s appearance at Game 6 of Lakers-Grizzlies didn’t seem like a coincidence at the time. Ultimately, the Lakers won the game, made a deep run in the playoffs and not much thought was given to Kyrie in free agency.
But a recent story from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN revealed that Kyrie’s attendance was very much deliberate.
Irving lives in Los Angeles in the offseason, and he had an open calendar after the Dallas Mavericks failed to make the playoffs. But he was also about to become a free agent, and according to sources close to him, Irving had a strong interest in reuniting with James — the man he’d won an NBA championship with as Cavaliers back in 2016 — either in Los Angeles or Dallas.
Irving was there, sources close to him say, to send that very message.
Because of how well the Lakers played in the playoffs and the desire for continuity, there wasn’t much pushback to the team re-signing most of it’s core. Even LeBron James, despite having a desire to team with Kyrie, was silent, though that may have been based on past mistakes.
James was open to the idea, sources said, but careful not to do anything that would be seen as a push while the organization was still trying to extricate itself from the ill-fated experiment with Russell Westbrook.
It was hard to make an argument against running it back and in favor of blowing everything up to get Kyrie. Basically, any legitimate arguments to do so are done entirely in hindsight. But it is interesting, if not unsurprising, that the two LeBron and Kyrie wanted to reunite.
Dennis Schröder left for more playing time
Of the many things that have gone wrong this season, the Lakers not having their biggest free agent signing available in Gabe Vincent ranks high on that list. Seen as the replacement for Dennis Schröder, Vincent hasn’t even played enough to determine if he can fill that void.
There were multiple reasons that Schröder wasn’t going to be able to stay in Los Angeles, chief among them being they couldn’t pay him what he made in Toronto. However, an increase in playing time was a reported desire of Schröder’s, too.
The most significant personnel change from last year’s group was swapping Dennis Schroder for Vincent at point guard — a move that, according to sources, was as much about Schroder looking for a larger role as it was the Lakers’ preference for Vincent’s shooting and space-creating ability.
Now, Dennis is averaging a minute more per game this season with a marginally higher usage percentage while starting roughly the same percentage of games. On paper, the situation might have been better, but it hasn’t really played out as such.
Will LeBron play in LA in 2025?
The underlying story of this season, as has often been the case throughout his career, is LeBron’s contract and his future. Theoretically, he can opt out this summer and has, obviously, spoken about wanting to play with his son, Bronny, should he enter the league this spring.
In an episode of his podcast last week, Brian Windhorst — who has been as connected as anyone with Klutch Sports throughout the years — offered a bit of speculation on the matter.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with LeBron in 2025. I feel like LeBron’s going to play next year but I don’t know if it’s going to be for the Lakers. Probably? But he’s got an opt out.”
Again, this feels like speculation, but it’s informed speculation. There’s half a season that could still factor into this decision as well. And I think it’s also pretty clear that his decision hasn’t been entirely a basketball one recently.
But it’s certainly going to be something worth monitoring moving forward. Especially if things continue to go...less than ideal.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.