The Lakers were swept out of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, losing Game 4 by a score of 103-82. Dwight Howard was ejected, the home crowd walked out before it was over and the Lakers played without three starters and their top two reserves.
With a long offseason ahead of them, we must ask—where do we stand with the rumors in Los Angeles?
The Lakers ended this season in the same way they started it, losing consecutive games. While the Lakers managed to go 28-12 during their final 40 games, their slow start was paired with stunning injuries and thus held them down.
Perhaps most consistently of all, there were countless questions about whether or not the Lakers had found the proper head coach.
Mike D'Antoni drops to 1-14 in the last 15 playoff games he's coached.According to our research, that is REALLY REALLY bad.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) April 29, 2013
What can we say? Numbers Never Lie.
We can look back and say what went wrong, but it would be more productive to acknowledge what needs to change. After a season in which the Lakers began 17-25, there's no shortage of blame to be passed around.
So what does this mean for the future of some of L.A.'s brightest stars?
Dwight Howard's Future
The No. 1 question in all of Los Angeles is whether or not the Lakers will be able to re-sign center Dwight Howard. This became the topic of conversation immediately after the Lakers' season-ending loss, but D-12 stood his ground.
No offseason talk (per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA.com).
Dwight asked if he could see playing for D'Antoni being "beneficial" for him in the future: "I'm not answering questions about next season"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 29, 2013
If D-12 won't say anything, we certainly will.
After such a disastrous season, it appears as if Howard has reason to leave Los Angeles. Outside of the poorly executed play on the court, there was an undeniable source of lackluster performance from the front office.
That has all led to Howard's recent run-in with general manager Mitch Kupchak.
It doesn't get much prettier for Howard's Lakers future.
While it's unclear whether or not Howard will sign elsewhere, he is an unrestricted free agent. As a result of this status, Howard is free to sign wherever he'd like without the need to confer with L.A.
I know for a fact that there are people in Dwight Howard's life trying to sell him on Houston. But like I said, I think he stays in L.A.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 29, 2013
Regardless of where Howard ends up, it will be the headline-stealing news of the summer.
Metta World Peace to Opt Out?
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Lakers small forward Metta World Peace may opt out of his contract for the 2013-14 season. The reason for this wouldn't be to leave the Lakers, however, as he'd prefer to sign a longer deal.
By opting out, MWP could sign a contract that is less lucrative but longer and with more security:
"World Peace might opt out of his player option in hopes for a longer but less expensive contract, although that runs the risk of the Lakers letting him walk."
As it presently stands, MWP would make $7,727,280 in 2013-14 (per Spotrac.com). There is an early termination option on his deal, however, which presents World Peace with the opportunity to walk away after this season.
Seeing as he'd be a 34-year-old free agent in 2014, it makes sense that MWP would consider signing a long-term deal.
World Peace may not be the elite athlete that he was during his prime, but he's coming off of a season in which he posted the highest scoring, rebounding and steals averages of his Lakers career. He also continues to play high-quality defense.
It may not garner as many headlines, but MWP's willingness to take a pay cut for more years as a Laker could be a franchise-altering decision.