Four Questions To Which The Lakers Need Answers To Decide What To Do
The Los Angeles Lakers will face major challenges this summer as they try to fix the roster and coaching problems that derailed this season and left the Lakers a shocking and disappointing 11th out of 15 NBA teams in the West.
More troubling than their record is the Lakers lack of valuable trading chips heading into a critical summer where they desperately need to rebuild their roster back to championship caliber with LeBron James’ retirement looming. In addition to finding and hiring a new head coach and staff, the Lakers must find a trading partner willing to salary dump three rotation players for Russell Westbrook’s expiring contract and two post-LeBron first round draft picks.
Here are the four questions to which the Lakers will need answers to before they can decide exactly what to do to fix their roster in terms of specific players and find a new head coach who fits the needs of the new roster.
1. Can Lakers Still Win Championship with LeBron James and AD?
If yes, the Lakers should move forward to convince LeBron James to sign a two-year extension with a player option for second year, lining up his and AD’s contracts and guaranteeing the Lakers two more years of both superstars.
Note that LeBron not signing an extension sends the Lakers on a different set of options that include moving forward but returning to the subject before the trade deadline or possibly trading LeBron and even AD if the Klutch alliance is broken.
If no, the Lakers should consider trading LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis this summer. The two superstars could generate enough young talent and draft picks for the Lakers to jumpstart building their next championship team.
2. Does LeBron Signing Extension Change What Lakers Do This Summer?
If yes, the Lakers will then have the security of LeBron James and Anthony Davis under contract for two more years, enabling them to make a major investment in more salaries and luxury taxes to upgrade the roster to championship level,
If no, the Lakers can either decide to gamble the moves you make will be enough to convince LeBron to sign the extension or decide to cut your losses and trade LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis this summer or at the trade deadline.
Just a note about timing. Since LeBron is not eligible to sign an extension until August 4th, the Lakers may require him to verbally agree to sign the extension before making any long-term moves dependent upon him being a Laker.
3. Is There a Chance Lakers Keep Russell Westbrook Next Season?
If yes, it would be because they would not give up a first round draft pick to move him or decided to take advantage of the cap space when Russ’ $47 million comes off the books the summer after next when LeBron and AD will be the only Lakers.
If no, the Lakers should trade Russ and their two first round picks for three quality rotation players, for example the Pacers’ Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. McConnell. They should not spend a first round pick to move Russ.
If the Lakers make their two first round picks unprotected, they might be able to get more for Russ and his expiring contract than Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrez Harrell, and #22 draft pick who was Isaiah Jackson.
If the Lakers couldn’t find an acceptable trade partner to take Russ without giving up a pick and keeping him for his expiring contract was not worth it, the Lakers last option would be to waive-and-stretch Westbrook’s $47 million contract.
4. Do the Lakers Need to Hire a New Head Coach Right Away?
If yes, it would be because the Lakers did not want an ongoing coaching search get in the way of signing free agents and negotiating trades and because there was a candidate like Quin Snyder or Rajon Rondo whom they wanted to get locked up.
Ideally, the Lakers can sign their choice as their next head coach as soon as the season ends and before free agency and the offseason trade period open up. Could be important for free agents to know who is going to coach them on the Lakers.
If no, it would be because the Laker did not have a candidate they were ready to sign or because they wanted to wait to see what the final roster looked like before deciding on who would be the best coach for the roster the Lakers ended up with.
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