As a result, it became clearly evident to everyone that the Lakers were, in fact, in need of a slight makeover.
The Lakers already have a solid core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
However, they don’t have the necessary pieces around them to be considered a championship team.
In order to be in championship form next season, the Lakers' front office will have to make a series of vital moves, and they may need to give up one or two pieces of their core—this task may be difficult considering the Lakers’ lack of cap space.
But, let us fast forward past the complicated decisions that the team will need to make and take a look at the roster that the Lakers may have for the 2012-13 season.
PG Kyle Lowry/Ramon Sessions/Darius Morris
SG Kobe Bryant/Andrew Goudelock/Marcus Denmon
SF Metta World Peace/Michael Beasley/Christian Eyenga
PF Luis Scola/Kenyon Martin/Josh McRoberts
C Andrew Bynum/Marcus Camby/Josh McRoberts
Now, let's get into the details.
The Lakers absolutely need to pull off some kind of deal.
While Deron Williams is an attractive name, it’s doubtful that the Lakers will be able to acquire him because they lack the pieces.
Yes, they can give up Andrew Bynum, but is that a viable option considering there aren’t very many dominant centers in the NBA?
That’s why I believe the Lakers will give up Pau Gasol, instead, and receive Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola.
Also, considering Gasol's age, contract and disappearing act in the playoffs, I don't expect the Lakers to get a better deal.
Kyle Lowry will be an upgrade over Ramon Sessions at the starting point guard position.
Before getting injured, Lowry had a PER of 18.89 and he showed that he is productive in all areas by averaging 14.3 PPG, 6.6 APG and 4.6 RPG.
Not only does Lowry have the ability to attack the rim and shoot from long distance efficiently, but he’s also very tough on the defensive end, unlike Sessions.
It’s also very important to note that Lowry is someone who will be there for the future—he’s only 26 years old.
There isn’t much need for an explanation here.
Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly be the starting shooting guard for the Lakers for yet another season.
Metta World Peace lost a lot of support from the basketball community after he elbowed Thunder shooting guard James Harden during the regular season.
While World Peace played poorly for the majority of last season, he improved in April as he averaged 14.1 PPG on 48 percent shooting from the field.
He continued to play well during the playoffs too, averaging close to 12 PPG.
While many believe the Lakers should amnesty him, World Peace has proved that he still has value.
His defensive abilities are still valuable to the team and, as ironic as it sounds, he was one of the only guys on the team last season who the team could depend on to be mentally locked in during games.
Kobe Bryant said so himself.
Luis Scola will be one of the players the Lakers will acquire from the Pau Gasol trade.
While Scola’s production declined last season, he can still provide a threatening and unique presence in the post, like Gasol.
In fact, Scola averaged 17.9 PPG per 36 minutes, which was higher than Gasol’s average.
In addition, although he’s not as good a passer, Scola is an unselfish player like Gasol.
Scola will never be able to duplicate what Gasol is able to do on the court, but he will serve as a useful power forward for the Lakers.
While many speculate that the Lakers will pull the trigger and acquire Dwight Howard this offseason, I beg to differ.
Jim Buss loves Andrew Bynum. In fact, he recently stated that Bynum is "an incredible All-Star center, and you can build the future around him."
While a Howard-Bynum swap is intriguing, the Lakers have to take into account that Howard just had back surgery.
There’s no way to tell whether Howard will be the same.
To be on the safe side, the Lakers will hold on to the offensively superior Bynum, who averaged career highs in points and rebounds with averages of 18.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG.
Remarkably, Bynum stayed healthy the entire year last season, and I expect him to be in good shape next season too, especially because he is planning on going through the same knee procedure that Bryant went through last offseason.
As Buss said, Bynum is, indeed, someone to build around.
Although his maturity has come into question, he’s only 24 years old—he needs time to grow up.
While Sessions played well for the Lakers during the regular season, averaging 12.7 PPG and 6.2 APG, his production declined in the playoffs, where he averaged 9.7 PPG and 3.6 APG on only 37.7 percent shooting from the field.
In addition, his defensive weaknesses were exposed.
Sessions has a player option for next season that I believe he will accept—the $4.6 million option may be enough to satisfy him.
Sessions will be the perfect backup for Kyle Lowry because there won’t be an immense amount of pressure on him.
Off the bench, he will use his youth and athleticism to stimulate the Lakers’ offense by getting to the basket and dishing out to teammates.
Andrew Goudelock played sparingly last season, and I don’t expect his minutes to increase significantly.
Off the bench, Goudelock will do exactly what he did last season: shoot, shoot, shoot.
The Lakers were one of the worst perimeter shooting teams last season, and Goudelock will surely help in that area.
In limited minutes, Goudelock shot close to 38 percent from the three-point line last season.
The Lakers’ bench was their biggest weakness last season—they averaged the fewest points per game in the entire league.
Michael Beasley will make sure that this will not happen again.
The Lakers were interested in acquiring Beasley at the trade deadline in March, but the deal fell through.
However, the Timberwolves are still interested in a sign-and-trade deal that would include Jordan Hill.
In order to improve their bench scoring, I believe the Lakers will be give up one of their best big men and Steve Blake to acquire Beasley, who the Timberwolves seem frantic to give up to make way for Derrick Williams.
Beasley had a down year last season, but he is more than capable of scoring at a high rate—In 2010-11, Beasley averaged 19.2 PPG.
Not only will Beasley help with bench scoring, but he will also be an efficient perimeter shooter, something that the Lakers desperately need after being in the bottom five in three-point shooting last season.
Kenyon Martin can provide a tough defensive presence that the Lakers’ second unit lacks with Sessions and Beasley.
Martin signed with the Clippers for the mini mid-level exception, and I expect him to sign for the same amount or even less this season if it means being a part of a contending team.
Although he’s 38 years old, Marcus Camby has defied his age with his production.
Last season with the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers, Camby averaged 9.0 RPG.
Rebounding is valuable for every team, and Camby hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.
In addition, Camby can provide a defensive presence with his 6’11” frame.
Although Camby made over $11 million last season, he won’t get the same the amount of money in the free-agent market this offseason.
In fact, it seems Camby would be willing to take a big pay cut if it meant being on a contending team.
Darius Morris is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Due to his lack of playing time, however, there aren’t very many teams that will be interested in signing the former second-rounder to a lucrative deal.
The 6’4” point guard still has a lot of potential and I believe the Lakers will hold on to him and develop him for the future.
The Lakers have one pick in the 2012 NBA draft: 60th overall.
While this pick may seem useless, the Lakers will look to draft a player who can provide instant production.
Being a good shooter is trait that can be easily translated from the college level to the NBA level.
That’s why I believe the Lakers will draft Marcus Denmon.
Denmon was a great shooter for the Missouri Tigers and, by drafting him, the Lakers will receive a player who can immediately score off the bench.
Christian Eyenga was acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Ramon Sessions deal.
Eyenga played in only one game last season in which he scored eight points.
I don’t expect Eyenga to play much next season, and it will be hard for the Lakers to move him considering he still has three years left on his contract.
Josh McRoberts didn’t produce much as a Laker last season—he averaged close to 3.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 14 MPG.
McRoberts has two years left on his deal and doesn’t have much trade value, which is why I expect him to remain on the Lakers roster next season.
Even as a third-string player, McRoberts’ size will be valuable at the power forward and center positions.
While the loss of Pau Gasol could hurt the team, the addition of Kyle Lowry makes up for it.
Not only is he a really good point guard, but he is also a guy the Lakers can move forward with.
Bench scoring, a category the Lakers were dead last in last season, improves significantly with Ramon Sessions and the addition of Michael Beasley—also, like Lowry, young pieces the team can move forward with.
Meanwhile, the additions of Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby make up for the loss of Jordan Hill.
Keeping Bynum may be the best thing for the Lakers because he is only 24 years old.
His offensive game is already better than Howard’s, and he still has room to improve.
Trading a healthy Bynum for Howard, who is coming off back surgery, is too risky at this point.
Overall, the Lakers improve their biggest flaws while keeping some of their best pieces.