The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of work to do and decisions to make this offseason. After finishing 2013 with an extremely disappointing record of 45-37, LA must make a choice on nine free agents, four of whom are restricted.
Kobe Bryant is recovering from a torn Achilles and Steve Nash is another year older. Pau Gasol doesn’t get along with coach Mike D’Antoni, and Dwight Howard, the most notable of those nine free agents, has given no indication that he will return to the Lakers next season.
All is not well in Laker-land.
The team will not return all nine of those players, but some of them are worth giving a second shot. If Howard leaves and joins another team, odds are the Lakers won’t be very good in 2014, but they will have the luxury of giving some of their young, raw players an opportunity to see serious minutes and begin building towards 2015.
There are a lot of questions about the future of the Lakers, but more importantly about next season. Will D’Antoni adjust his coaching style to fit the roster or stick with his same scheme? When will the Mamba come back? Can Nash be productive and remain healthy? Who will the team pursue in free agency outside of D12?
All of those are viable questions, and ones that need to be asked of the Lakers going into 2014. Next season has the potential to be catastrophic for Los Angeles, but there is a possibility that they can still be a playoff team even without Howard. Bryant needs to have a speedy recovery and Gasol and Nash must click on the pick-and-roll in addition to consistent contributions from role players.
That’s a long way off, though. The issue that is right in front of the Lakers’ front office is free agency. Who should the team bring back and who should they let walk? Keep reading to find out who made the cut and should be back in purple and gold next season.