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Due to L.A.’s cap situation, there won’t be much difference between next year’s squad and the one that barely squeaked into the playoffs only to be annihilated by the San Antonio Spurs in round one.
That said, there are some moves the Lakers can make to re-tool the roster.
The obvious move is a Pau Gasol trade, as discussed earlier. The right package of role players would actually help a Lakers team that sorely lacks depth, athleticism and floor spacing much more than Gasol could in his diminished role.
Los Angeles’ front office will also have to nail free agency. The only contracts the team can hand out are for minimum wages, but there are several under the radar guys on the market who can make an impact for the Purple and Gold.
Dwight Howard could be a totally different player after putting another offseason between himself and the surgery on his back that hampered him throughout last season. Howard getting back to the level he was at two years ago would take the Lakers up a notch.
A training camp under their coach and more time to get to know one another’s games should only help as well.
But really it all depends on the health of Kobe Bryant. The Lakers will be in a situation similar to the 2013 Chicago Bulls, who grinded out a moderately successful season that could have blossomed into a title run if Derrick Rose came back healthy enough to lead them through the postseason.
In that same vein, if Bryant is able to return to the form that got him named to his 11th All-NBA first team this season, the Lakers could go from run-of-the-mill playoff fodder to legitimate title contenders.