30 Teams in 30 Days: Lakers search for answers after idle season

The Lakers hope their triple star can play together more in 2022-23 than they did in 2021-22.

Los Angeles Lakers

2021-22 record: 33-49

The main additions: Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, Lonnie Walker, Juan Toscano-Anderson (Free Agency), Patrick Beverly (Business), Coach Darvin Hamm

Key subtraction operations: Tallinn Horton Tucker and Stanley Johnson (trade), Monk Owner (Free Agency), Coach Frank Vogel

Last season: If Hollywood wants to write the perfect basketball horror movie script, it doesn’t need to go very far. Overall, the Lakers were a picture of disappointment by failing to make it to the playoffs, dealing with an almost nightly nuisance from Russell Westbrook, wasting the fight-dad season and winning time for LeBron James and dealing with a season-ending injury. By Anthony Davis (again), which all fail her fan base. Vogel was the one who suffered the most, showing the door mainly because the Lakers’ defense was choppy, but also because…they didn’t win enough.

Summer Summary: The once proud Lakers’ rebuilding delivered an immediate and largely expected setback as soon as Westbrook Exercise his player choice For the year 2022-23. Of course, had he refused, the entire basketball world would have checked him for a fever. The opportunity to earn $47 million can’t be dismissed easily, no matter how tough the season Westbrook takes off, or how much the fan base wants him to leave.

But once Westbrook locked himself in next season, the Lakers’ options were limited. They couldn’t swap it out without filling it up with sweeteners—they’re still paying pelicans to get Davis in 2019—and also Reclaim bad contracts and/or players from another team. Basically, the Lakers tried this summer, but keeping Westbrook was their best option (unless something changes in the eleventh hour before training camp or the season).

Westbrook may be secretly unhappy as a Laker, given what he’s been through – hard to read – however, the market test would have been financially disastrous. As an unrestricted free agent, Westbrook would have been lucky to get a fraction of that $47 million. If he decides to continue playing beyond this season, he will surely make an NBA record for the most payouts. So, yes, Westbrook will be back.

Can LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook succeed in 2022-23?

Due to the stress of the salary cap, the Lakers could only make waivers for periodic add-ons: Brown, Walker, Bryant and others. None of them are expected to be a starting option this season or significantly alter the team’s fortunes. In a better scenario, the Lakers would have kept Monk, who at times exceeded expectations last season. but he Flee to Sacramento Kings In free agency for more money and possibly a stronger role.

In this sense, perhaps the most important Plus it was hot. He’s a first-time trainer who walks into a potential quagmire, but Hamm is highly recommended. He spent much of his apprenticeship with Mike Budenholzer, first with the Atlanta Hawks and then more recently with the Milwaukee Bucks (where he won a title in 2021).

‘Important’ sounds mild and logical, which are the ideal qualities for the job. He says he has a plan for Westbrook to be less reckless with the ball, and also to put him in places where he doesn’t need to rely on outside shooting (which has been awful at times). Westbrook’s defenders gave him all the space he wanted and dared him to shoot, which seemed to work as he fired 29.8% on three-pointers (a 30.5% 3-point shooting career).

Expectations are high for newly appointed Lakers coach Darvin Hamm, who is looking to lead Los Angeles to greater success in 2022-23.

It would make sense for Westbrook to play more on the ball, which means taking the ball off James, whose vision and passing on the field remain sharp as he turns 38 this season. It will be interesting how Hamm deals with this delicate situation… and how Westbrook deals with it, too.

Talking about sensitive situations: Trade with Utah Jazz for Beverly This puts him in the same locker room where his longtime rival, Westbrook, looked caricatured. You cannot find two players who hate each other more. Again, let’s see how Westbrook deals with this.

Mostly, the Lakers’ success rate this season will depend less on Westbrook and more on Davis’ health. He’s had to recover all summer from a sprained foot, and if he doesn’t relapse, he’s expected to be fully inclined when bootcamp opens.

The last part of the summer work involved the Lakers and James Agree to a two-year extension, while retaining the option year in the second year. Now everyone knows the game plan: LeBron wants the chance to team up with his eldest son, Bruni, when the kid is eligible to play in the league in two years — if he’s really good enough. But this is a problem for the future.

The Lakers are very busy with the present, and this summer has not offered many, if any, major solutions.

next one: Dallas Mavericks | previously: Cleveland Cavaliers

> 30 teams in 30 days: full schedule

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Sean Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him here you find Archive it here and follow him Twitter.

The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Basketball Association, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.