There are big questions to answer in the 2021 Lakers offseason. With limited cap space and draft assets, Los Angeles has a lot to do in the summer. Rob Pelinka might need to pull off some of his magic in order for them to upgrade their roster.
Lakers offseason preview 2021
Injuries played a big part in the Lakers’ rollercoaster season. Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been injured for the majority part of the regular season. This jeopardized a little bit of their team chemistry since they haven’t played a fully healthy roster most of the time.
Furthermore, they added a lot of new faces this season such as Schroder, Drummond, Harrell, Matthews, McLemore, and Gasol. A lot of time on the court together is needed for them to mesh around their playstyle.
Here are four questions the Lakers need to answer in the offseason:
Is Schroder the “guy”?
Dennis Schroder had a solid season averaging 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists per game. His scoring and playmaking ability are spot on and can definitely help any championship team.
Albeit having a good season, he has shown inconsistencies both in the regular and postseason. He looked much sharper efficiency-wise in his stint last season with the Thunder.
Recently, Schroder declined Los Angeles’ four-year, $84 million contract extension offer. Obviously, he wanted more.
As a free agent, he could sign a max contract for another team. But of course, there are risks. If he decides to bet on himself in free agency, are there teams out there that can offer him a max contract worth over $20 million? He’s a solid player, but is he worth the max?
If he decides to stay in Los Angeles, the question still stands: Is he that “guy” who can help LeBron and AD aspire for the championship? If not, a sign and trade could be on the table as well. This should be answered in the Lakers offseason.
Is it over for Kuzma?
Kyle Kuzma has been up and down this season averaging 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. He had bursts when he is hot and times when he is missing on the offensive end.
It’s evident that he is not a fit in Vogel’s system. He’s a natural shot creator who loves to drive. Instead, the Lakers wanted him to be a shooter because that is what they need, and he’s shooting it inconsistently.
If he is not fit with their current roster, then they could find another role player that fits better alongside LeBron and AD or package him with other assets in a trade for a star. Trading Kuzma could pay dividends in the Lakers offseason.
Kuzma can still be a great scorer and key piece in a new team where he can stay loose.
Who to target in free agency?
After a rollercoaster season, the Lakers offseason should focus on which supporting cast fits their superstar duo. This means looking for some players in free agency, particularly veterans who can sign a minimum deal.
Kuzma: “Damn that was a close one we’ll be back next year though!”
What the Lakers need are wings that can shoot threes consistently and bigs that can protect the rim.
Some notable free agent wings are Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, and Doug McDermott. Meanwhile, bigs such as Nerlens Noel, Kelly Olynyk, and Gorgui Dieng can provide some size, especially when Davis is out.
The Lakers could also make a run for Carmelo Anthony. He’s an elite scorer who can provide microwave scoring off the bench.
How should they address their health issues?
Health is the biggest issue for the Lakers.
There’s no denying that a fully healthy Lakers roster is of championship caliber. Having that said, they should have a playbook next year when it comes to managing James and Davis’ minutes.
One solution can be pulling off a “load management” approach for their superstar duo next season—similar to what the Raptors did to Kawhi Leonard in 2019. This allows for both of them to be fully rested come playoff time.
Still, it will be a long offseason for the Lakers. This should give time for both of them to rest and be 100% at the start of next season.