With the departure of Kobe Bryant, the real work begins for the Lakers front office. For the first time in a long time the team is without a superstar. Things might change if the Lakers can lure a big free agent or two in the off-season. The Lakers finished with their worse season in franchise history with just 17 wins. The season before that, the team mustered up 21 wins. It’s been a decline for the past couple of seasons and its something that most fans aren’t used to.
It’s imperative that the Lakers upgrade their team this summer especially now that Bryant has rode into the sunset. The team needs something to sell other than just their talented young core. The trio of Russell, Clarkson, Randle are great building pieces for the future, but they need to insert young stars into the lineup. A player like DeRozan (Raptors) or Durant (Thunder) will certainly help. Those two will be one of the most top heavily recruited players this summer. The Lakers will need to put a monumental effort to get a top-tier free agent this summer. Selling the past to players these days just doesn’t work anymore. Sure the history of the franchise and the sixteen trophies helps, but not a whole lot. Players want to be put in situations to succeed and win championships. The problem is, even with the Lakers young core and adding a possible star free agent–would it be enough to compete for a title? Maybe not, but it would increase the chances of the team being a contender a lot sooner.
There’s also the question of whether or not the team will keep Byron Scott as head coach. There’s been a lot of disdain from fans about his ability to coach young players. Scott’s Lakers coaching record is just 38-126. Not exactly something to be happy about. You can argue that Scott didn’t have a great roster since taking the Lakers job. In his first season, Kobe was mostly hurt and the pieces around him weren’t very good. This past season Scott was dealt with a team with a retiring Kobe Bryant and a really young core surrounding him. Is it Scott’s fault that what he had to work with was ideal? No, that falls on the front office for not giving him the tools. Scott at least deserves one more season with a competitive roster. If the Lakers have a bad start again going winless in their first three to five games, then he might not last very long. Of course, assuming that Scott will be back as coach.
The Lakers might also have a top three draft pick in this years NBA draft. Most experts predict that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the top two picks with Hield, Murray, and Bender following. Assuming that the Lakers land the first or second pick, they’d probably take either or (Simmons/Ingram). The Lakers could also trade their draft pick if they land one and turn it around for a proven NBA player to quickly strengthen their team. Mitch Kupchak and company will have a busy summer and we hope it’s one that can make the Lakers into contenders again soon.