Predicting Which L.A. Lakers Will Not Return Next Season
The Los Angeles Lakers weren't bounced out of the 2012 NBA playoffs fairly easily in the second round by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now it's time to discuss exactly which players won't be returning for the Lake Show next season.
Trade rumors have clouded this team since before the regular season, when the trade to bring in Chris Paul was vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern. Now, it appears that those rumors are going to continue to get bigger until someone is kicked out of town.
Here are the Lakers who will not be back next season.
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Ever since he was nearly traded at the beginning of the season, Pau Gasol has played under the tension and strain of almost constant rumors about where he will end up. Now it appears that those rumors will come true in the offseason.
The hottest rumor now, according to USA Today, is that Gasol wants to become a Chicago Bull via trade. The Bulls were one of the biggest pursuers of Gasol at the trade deadline during the season, searching for a player to help take the offensive load off of Derrick Rose.
You can book it. Gasol will not be a Laker next season.
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Matt Barnes is a free agent this offseason, and, considering his contribution this season, it is doubtful that he'll be re-signed by the Lakers.
The 6'7" small forward didn't score a single point in the final four games of the Lakers' series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his defensive impact appeared to be negligible as well. He didn't do much better in the playoffs as a whole, averaging 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game on abysmal 27-percent shooting.
Barnes hasn't really worked for the Lakers, and they'll be better off letting him go.
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While he's nowhere near being a star, Troy Murphy has been a solid role player for the past 10 years in the NBA. However, this year with the Lakers, Murphy was basically nothing.
In the playoffs, a blind squirrel could have found the court quicker than Murphy did. He played in just four games, averaging 0.8 points in 3.8 minutes per contest. That won't change if he stays with the Lakers.
Don't blame the Lakers. They have Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Josh McRoberts, all of whom are better than Murphy. But don't expect Murphy to stay this offseason as a free agent. He may not be a game-changer, but he can certainly help out a team that will actually play him.
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Another free agent this offseason, Devin Ebanks is a young role player who has a mystery amount of potential. While he does have the downsides of youth and of not having any outside shot to speak of, Ebanks is athletic and a good defender.
During the Lakers' series against the Thunder, it appeared that Ebanks was able to more effectively guard Kevin Durant than anyone else at times. It's a small thing, but it may be enough for another team to swoop in and nab Ebanks, especially since he played in just 24 regular season games for LA.