The Los Angeles Lakers have made a number of moves this offseason, although the majority have been underwhelming.
Last season, the Lakers finished with a 33-49 record and were 11th in the Western Conference. This, of course, was extremely disappointing considering the team won the NBA championship in 2020, had LeBron James, and made a major move for Russell Westbrook.
Head coach Frank Vogel took plenty of the blame and was fired. Westbrook’s performances were all over the place and his move was seen as a disappointment. Of course, Anthony Davis was also sidelined for much of the season.
The core pieces of the Lakers roster remain more or less the same, but the team hasn’t done enough to be considered a title contender like they were a short time ago.
The Los Angeles Lakers Underwhelmed This Offseason
A New Head Coach
Vogel was dismissed, even though he guided the Lakers to the 2020 championship. Darvin Ham was brought in to be the 28th head coach in franchise history.
There will be a lot of pressure on Ham as this is his first NBA head coaching gig. From 2011-13, Ham spent time with the Lakers as an assistant coach. He then moved to the Atlanta Hawks for five years, and experienced strong regular season success. In 2018, Ham made the move to the Milwaukee Bucks, also as an assistant coach. He truly dazzled there, and played a major role in the Bucks’ 2021 championship run.
Ham has long been one of the top assistant coaches in the league. All in all, this was a very solid hire for the Lakers.
Malik Monk enjoyed a great personal season with the Lakers last year. He averaged about 14 points per game while being a three-point assassin, shooting 39 percent from deep. Monk was an important piece but signed with the Sacramento Kings this offseason.
Veterans such as Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard are gone as well. Neither have been signed in free agency yet, however, so perhaps they’ll make a return. Howard looks most unlikely to return, mostly due to the Lakers’ other signings at center. Anthony, however, is a decent option as he averaged about 14 points and four rebounds per game last season.
Player Additions for the Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers signed a number of players to surround the core of James, Davis, and Westbrook.
One of the most notable is Lonnie Walker, who previously played for the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 12 points per game last season, and is likely expected to be the fourth option on offense. Simply put, he isn’t the ideal fourth option for a team with championship ambitions. With that being said, Walker remains a solid player.
Thomas Bryant comes in from the Washington Wizards, and he may very well be given the starting center position. Bryant has an above-average offensive game for a center, although he has his defensive deficiencies. Damian Jones is another center who was brought in, who showed some flashes of offensive potential towards the end of last season with the Sacramento Kings.
Of course, a number of rookies come in such as second-round pick Max Christie and other two-way players. They aren’t expected to have a major role.
The Lakers had their fair share of troubles last season, and none of the players they brought in scream improvement.
Looking Ahead for the Los Angeles Lakers
James should continue to be an All-Star and one of the best players in the league. The Lakers will also greatly benefit if Davis can return to health. He was somewhat forgotten last season, but Davis is still one of the top big men in the game when healthy.
The Westbrook situation will be something to monitor throughout the rest of the offseason. He’s been mentioned in trade rumors for months now, and now they’re accelerating with the potential Kyrie Irving trade interest from the team.
Besides the news signings, second-year player Austin Reaves should see improvement. He’s proven to be a nice rotational piece. Los Angeles wants to see more improvement from Talen Horton-Tucker as well. If he can grow into his potential, Horton-Tucker could definitely be the fourth option on this team.
If the Lakers’ health isn’t a concern, they’ll be better than last season. Plenty of Western Conference squads have seen improvement or will return to health as well, though, so all in all the Lakers have not done enough to separate themselves from the pack.