The Los Angeles Lakers roller-coaster season is now officially over. This, after losing to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. Few expected them to even make it that far after they started the season 2-8 and looked unlikely to even make the playoffs. However, they remade their roster on the fly with several midseason deals, allowing them to go on a big post-all-star break run.
Even then, they were swept by the Nuggets. That made it clear that the Lakers don’t have quite enough to compete against elite teams, and there will likely be big changes to their roster this summer as a result. They may not be that far off from competing for a championship, but that will depend, of course, on LeBron James. While James was expected to play at least a couple more seasons in the NBA, after another deep playoff run, he is now considering retirement.
LeBron James’ next “decision” looms large for the Lakers.
After playing for 20 years, it is completely understandable for him to retire, though it would be devastating for the Lakers. After all, James pushed the Lakers to move their two remaining tradeable picks in 2027 and 2029, and if he were to call it a career, then they could be out of both those picks as well as their best player.
Although nothing is set in stone, perhaps James’ hinting at retirement serves a dual purpose. James may indeed be mulling retirement, but Los Angeles. Los Angeles, It also puts pressure on the Lakers to improve their roster to try and convince him to return. They will have to be creative in order to do so, given that they have few remaining assets.
It’s not impossible, however, and they could theoretically convince James’ former teammate Kyrie Irving to take a pay cut to play in L.A. Or, they could potentially work out a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks in that scenario, in which they sign and trade D’Angelo Russell to Dallas as well as Malik Monk, Jared Vanderbilt, and the 17th pick in this year’s draft for Irving.
That would give the Lakers a core of James, Irving, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves, which is better than most teams. Of course, they would have to fill out the roster with mostly veteran minimum contracts. That assumes that James returns, however, and that also assumes that Los Angeles can convince Irving to leave significantly more money on the table in Dallas to join the Lakers. That is assuming a lot, and we all know what they say about assuming.
Ultimately, regardless of whether James retires or not, the Lakers’ front office will need to continue to remake the roster in the offseason. If they can acquire an all-star such as Irving, it might be enough to keep James from calling it quits.