Crystal Ball Predictions for LA Lakers' Franchise-Defining Offseason

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Crystal Ball Predictions for LA Lakers' Franchise-Defining Offseason
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, coexisting.

The Los Angeles Lakers' 2012-13 season was among the craziest in modern NBA history. It started with a franchise-altering trades for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Then came the Sports Illustrated cover and widespread predictions that Miami's one-year reign on the top was about to end. 

So much for that.

Instead, Nash and Pau Gasol struggled through early-season injuries, coach Mike Brown was canned five games into the season, and Mike D'Antoni was hired amid fans begging for Phil Jackson to return. 

It didn't help. In some ways, things got worse as D'Antoni prioritized his system over personnel while alienating Gasol. Oh yeah: Bryant and Howard seemed to be locked in a public cold war in which neither man seemed to care for the other's approach to life, let alone basketball.

The team couldn't win many games and floundered below .500 throughout the year. It got better near the end, as the Lakers rallied, won a few games and set themselves up to sneak into the playoffs.

Then Ron Artest tore his meniscus, Kobe blew out his Achilles, and none of the team's other perimeter players could stay healthy. The hard-earned playoff berth was for naught. The San Antonio Spurs swept Los Angeles, nary breaking a sweat.

What now? 

How will this team look come next season?

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