Just two years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were in the playoffs.
The last two seasons haven’t gone well for the storied franchise, with this season resulting in an all-time low win percentage for the team.
But as the saying goes, the night is always darkest before the dawn, and with a number of high-profile free agents hitting the open market and the second overall pick in the NBA draft, things look to be on the upswing for the Lakers.
Here is some of the recent buzz surrounding the Lakers and their possible offseason moves.
No offense intended to LaMarcus Aldridge or Jimmy Butler, but after the most recent season, a solid case could be made for Marc Gasol as the strongest free agent hitting the market this summer.
Only a couple of years removed from being considered little more than the kid brother of Pau, Marc had a career year, averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game and leading the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Coming off of such a successful year, Gasol will have many teams calling, according to ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace, with the Lakers among the ranks: "The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks all are developing proposals to present to Gasol when the free agency recruiting period opens July 1, according to multiple league sources."
Gasol feels more like a player of a bygone era, one that remains with a single franchise through and through, becoming a legend with the Grizzlies by the end of his career.
But the call of the Lakers is strong and might be enough to pull Gasol to the West Coast. His brother’s history there might play into any decision to move to Los Angeles, but for now, the Spanish center’s future is in question.
A starter and a linchpin for any team he joins, the Lakers will be no exception to that and could benefit from adding yet another elite center to their already illustrious history.
While Gasol might be the ultimate gem from this summer’s free-agency period for the Lakers, the prevailing storyline is and always has been Kevin Love.
Since Love joined the Cavaliers last summer, the speculation has been rampant about what the power forward’s future held.
Per ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst on a podcast with Zach Lowe (via RealGM), Love’s future likely lies in another city: "Every executive I talk to, every agent I talk to, every quasi insider, every girlfriend’s cousin's sister’s boyfriend all says this guy is out of there."
Lowe agreed with Windhorst about the potential departure of Love, adding the Lakers are a strong contender to land him: "Part of what’s going on there is the Lakers’ boogeyman. They don’t just say he’s out of there, they say ‘He’s going to the Lakers.’ That has much to do with the fear people have of the Lakers as it does with Kevin Love."
Love moving to Los Angeles to join the Lakers makes all the sense in the world, especially after missing a majority of the playoffs with a shoulder injury he picked up in the first round against the Celtics.
A California native who will step into the team automatically as a second option, first if Kobe Bryant is injured, all of the signs are pointing to Love getting a chance to bounce back with the Lakers following an up-and-down year in Cleveland:
If Love does depart, many teams will be interested in acquiring his services, but for now, the Lakers seem to be very much in play.
Despite just being let go, Thibodeau is likely the hottest coaching commodity to be available this summer, and teams will begin circling in the near future.
One of the teams speculated to be interested in bringing in Thibodeau is the Lakers despite Byron Scott heading into just his second season at the helm of the franchise.
But as of now, it appears that the interest has cooled, and the Lakers are staying the course, per ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne:
Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne
The Lakers had interest in Thibs LAST year. Now I'm told they are very happy with Byron Scott. Kupchak even went on record w/ this last week2015-5-28 16:44:48
Since taking over as coach of the Bulls in 2010-11, Thibodeau led Chicago to five consecutive playoff appearances and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in his first season.
But even with such a strong resume, the Lakers appear to be sticking with Scott, which could prove to be the right move down the road.
Although he hasn’t had the best recent stretch of form—missing the playoffs in each of the last four full seasons he coached—he has a strong overall track record. With a team in rebuilding mode, some time has to be given to work out the kinks.
Thibodeau will find work without much trouble this summer, but for now, the Lakers don’t seem to be interested in bringing in the former NBA Coach of the Year.