The Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals last night, sending the Lakers to their second consecutive second-round exit. Despite the loss, Kobe Bryant vowed after the game that L.A. would be back in contention next season: "This is not one of those things like where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappeared forever."
Before the team returns to the court for the 2012/13 season, the Lakers will have a number of roster moves and decisions to make. Here's the latest on a few of the issues facing the club:
- Andrew Bynum told reporters last night, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, that he's not sure what his future in Los Angeles holds. According to Bynum's agent David Lee, the ball is in the Lakers' court when it comes to talking about a contract extension for the young center.
- Brian Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com looks at eight questions facing the Lakers as the team prepares for the offseason. Within the piece, he suggests that coach Mike Brown won't be fired, and wonders whether Ramon Sessions will pick up his player option after a poor postseason.
- Over the luxury-tax threshold and with only the 60th pick in the draft, the Lakers will have to make trades if they hope to improve their roster, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
- Pau Gasol's time as a Laker will likely end soon, since he's their only logical trade chip, says Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune tweets that he expects the Timberwolves to get involved in Gasol trade discussions again.
- Gasol should be the first domino to fall, but the Lakers will be faced with other decisions too, writes McMenamin.
- For his part, Gasol doesn't think the Lakers need to significantly overhaul the roster, as he tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Gasol, Bynum, and Bryant all suggested that a full training camp would've helped the Lakers, who were adjusting to Brown's system.