The Los Angeles Lakers are destined to make noise this offseason. The famous franchise finished the 2013-2014 season with a 27-55 record, far short of its usual threshold for success.
But what is one of the most storied franchises in NBA history going to do to turn things around for the upcoming season? The team's plans for the future hinge on the health of its current stars, success in the draft and finding a head coach with the ability to achieve the loftiest of goals in Los Angeles.
Here is the latest news on each of those three facets of the Lakers offseason.
Steve Nash Discusses Health
Steve Nash took time out of his offseason schedule on Monday to discuss the nerve damage that severely limited his contributions to the Lakers last season. Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
I feel great right now. I’ve been able to pretty much go without limitations. I’m obviously not trying to overdo it so I can allow that nerve to settle down perhaps and be less irritating. It has worked so far, but I would hate to say this is where it will be like once I join the rigors of an NBA schedule.
The Lakers' blockbuster acquisition of Steve Nash has largely been a failed experiment so far. Nash has played just 65 games over the past two seasons, averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 assists per game, as per Basketball-Reference.com.
How many games will Nash play for the Lakers in 2014-2015?
However, the cautiously optimistic outlook on his health could make him a potential trading chip for the Lakers. If other teams believe that he's capable of making solid contributions next season, the Lakers could try to package him with their No. 7 draft choice and set themselves up for the free-agent class of 2015.
It is highly, highly unlikely that Nash—who is entering the final year of his contract—will be considered part of the Lakers' plans beyond the 2014-2015 season; the team desperately needs to turn a corner and focus on younger players with the potential to secure a successful long-term future.
Nash's health can help the team in the short term, either by solidifying the point guard position for next season or serving as effective trade bait.
Joel Embiid's Agent Steering Client Toward Lakers
Joel Embiid's foot injury knocked him off his pedestal as the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, so immediately the discussion turned to which team might be willing to take a chance on the star player.
According to ESPN's Bill Simmons, Embiid's agent might be trying to influence where the former Kansas star lands.
Also hearing that Arn Tellem wanted Embiid to go first... but if that can't happen, he's going to push hard to steer him to Boston or LA.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 19, 2014
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, a person familiar with the Lakers believes they would consider drafting Embiid should he fall to No. 7 in the draft.
Should the Lakers draft Embiid if he's still on the board at No. 7?
The Lakers won't get a shot at Embiid if Boston rolls the dice on him with the No. 6 pick in the draft, but the Celtics could potentially trade that pick to land a high-caliber player like Kevin Love. If the Lakers do have a chance to draft Embiid, they would be hard-pressed to pass up a player with his potential.
Embiid's injuries are a concern, but he showed at Kansas he has adept footwork and excellent shot-blocking capabilities. Drafting Embiid means the Lakers would likely have to endure another difficult losing season in 2014-2015, but a healthy Embiid could possibly entice free agents to come to Los Angeles in the summer of 2015 for the chance to play with a franchise center.
Lakers' Search for Coach Potentially on Hold
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne explains that Byron Scott has interviewed multiple times for the Los Angeles Lakers and is the likely front-runner in their coaching search, although they are waiting until July to make a move:
Lakers aren't likely to hire before July 1, but Byron Scott has interviewed 3 times & is considered the front runner http://t.co/27nF57VhlT— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 23, 2014
Shelburne explains why the Lakers are holding off on a head coach, as well as dropping the name of another interviewee still in the mix.
In other words, Lakers continue to explore options w/ their salary cap room. Which is part of reason they haven't hired a coach yet— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 23, 2014
Lionel Hollins still in mix. Has bona fides & strong interview. Gentry impressed b4 taking GS job for > than $800k (he made > $500k in LA)— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 23, 2014
Scott has obvious connections to the Purple and Gold, having played for the team from 1983-1993 and 1996-1997.
Lionel Hollins last coached the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2012-2013 season and has a .516 career winning percentage as a head coach. Hollins recently told Basketball Insiders' Yannis Koutroupis about his feelings on the interviewing process:
Everywhere I’ve interviewed I’ve felt like it was an organization that I would want to be a part of and a job that had some prospects. Obviously it’s up to the team and the person making the call on what they want and whether or not they think you fit what they’re trying to do.