When a defending champion gets knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, it usually means changes are coming, but Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka hopes to keep the core of this year’s team intact, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Injuries played a large role in L.A.’s downfall this season, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both missing long stretches and being less than 100% for the playoffs.
The Lakers will have eight free agents this summer and possibly nine if Montrezl Harrell turns down a $9.7MM player option. Pelinka indicated that he will try to re-sign most of those players and said the front office is committed to paying the luxury tax to keep the team in title contention.
“I’m convinced that, again, without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year, the challenges that we had to face, that we’d be a championship-caliber team,” he said. “So the goal is to try to keep that core group together.”
There’s more on the Lakers:
- At Friday’s exit interviews, Dennis Schröder made it clear that his decision to turn down an $84MM extension during the season wasn’t in retaliation for being part of trade talks involving Kyle Lowry, McMenamin adds. Schröder has expressed a desire to return to the Lakers, but he will see what offers are available in free agency. “I didn’t decline the extension because I was in trade talks,” he said. “I own a (basketball) team in Germany as well. I try to run my organization in Germany as fair as possible, but end of the day, it’s still business. … That’s what Rob did as well. He told me the story. He listened to it. It wasn’t even right by the trade deadline, but he talked to them to see. … I would listen to offers as well. … You don’t know what you can get, and you see what your options are.”
- Finding a dependable center should be the focus of the Lakers’ offseason, states Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. They installed Andre Drummond as their starter after signing him in March, but he wasn’t used in Thursday’s close-out game. Marc Gasol signed a two-year contract during the offseason, but his role diminished significantly after Drummond was added.
- With three NBA head coaching jobs now open, Frank Vogel said he believes Jason Kidd deserves another shot, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The Lakers’ assistant is Damian Lillard‘s first choice to take over the Trail Blazers and may be a candidate for other teams. “Jason has become one of my closest friends, you know, really a trusted advisor on my coaching staff and someone that has just been integral to our success in the last two years,” Vogel said. “He should be at the top of everybody’s list that has an opening in the NBA.”