The Los Angeles Lakers are currently at the beginning of what should be a long and busy offseason, with plenty of change and adjustments still to be made.
Fortunately, some things look to remain stable and unchanged, such as the team’s starting point guard.
However, there could be plenty of new faces around the organization, as the club is currently evaluating a number of intriguing prospects at the NBA Scouting Combine in anticipation of the draft.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at all the latest buzz, news and rumors surrounding the Lakers.
Steve Nash Honoring Contract
Nash may not have had the best 2012-13 campaign, but his veteran leadership, crafty passing and elite shooting will be necessary for L.A. to win a championship. It seems that the Canadian superstar realizes this as well and plans to stick with the Lakers for the remainder of his contract—which expires after the 2014-15 season.
According to Mike Beamish of the Vancouver Sun, Nash—who will be 41 at that juncture—is likely to retire after his current contract expires, but he has left the door open for a possible extension.
“There’s a chance that that could be it. A big chance,” Nash said. “But you never know how it goes, or how I’ll feel. Anything can happen between now and then.”
While the remaining $19 million or so on the deal is certainly a major incentive to hang around, Nash has yet to win a title during a long and decorated career that includes two MVP awards and eight All-Star appearances.
If the Lakers are able to sign Dwight Howard to a long-term deal and have a fully healthy Kobe Bryant back in time for the postseason, there is no doubting this franchise could go deep into the playoffs. It all depends on the health of the roster during the regular season and into the playoffs, which pieces the Lakers bring in via free agency and maybe even who is drafted with their second-round selection.
Speaking of that, let’s take a look at some prospects the team is evaluating at the NBA Scouting Combine.
Lakers Looking At Second-Rounders
L.A. has sent some representatives to Attack Athletics to observe some young talent at the combine. Because this organization only possesses the No. 48 overall pick, it will have to look for the best available player to try and find a suitable piece that could make a playoff-bound roster.
Hoopsworld’s Alex Kennedy is reporting that the Lakers are taking a close look at both Nate Wolters and Adonis Thomas, two intriguing studs who could make an impact at the next level.
Wolters is definitely someone that this club could use in the Black Mamba’s absence, as he’s a born scorer who isn’t afraid to continuously pull up and fire away from anywhere on the court.
During his senior year at South Dakota State, the 6’4” guard averaged 22.3 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds in 38.1 minutes per game. He shot 48.5 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from deep—respectable numbers for a guy who was often the focus of opposing defenses.
Thomas is a high-upside prospect that many thought would be a lottery pick coming out of high school, but he hasn’t panned out as expected. He’s still a contributor, though, having put up 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in 29.3 minutes per game with the Memphis Tigers.
Thomas’ size is what should have the Lakers intrigued, as he’s a 6’7”, 240-pound swingman who can play multiple positions. He has to work on his three-point shot to truly fit in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, but he may surprise if the Lakers select him in June.
Pau Gasol Shutting Down this Summer
After undergoing knee surgery to repair tissue on his patellar tendons in early May, Gasol has recently announced that he will not participate as a member of Team Spain in the European Championships this summer.
According to the big man’s official website, Gasol apologized to his fans and will instead use the time to rest and recover for the upcoming NBA campaign. He also plans to be ready for the FIBA Basketball World Cup next summer:
My priority aim is to recover myself thinking in the next season and to be ready, if I'm asked to, for the next challenge with the national team, the World Cup of Spain 2014.
This should be a relief for Lakers fans who don’t particularly care how Spain fares in the Euro Championship, as there’s no additional risk for Gasol to suffer injury or setbacks in the offseason.
Considering the veteran power forward put together a handful of triple-double performances at the tail end of the 2012-13 campaign, he projects to to be an instrumental piece next year—especially without Bryant in the lineup.