The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2016-17 season with playoffs hopes. Ok, maybe that was just me who thought they could turn the table. In all fairness, they began the season on a high note with wins against the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and Golden Sate warriors. Then it all came crashing down. But what was the problem?
It started in Free Agency with the huge contracts given to Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng. Combined, both players cost the Lakers 8 years and $136 million. With that money, the Lakers were expecting more than a combined 15 points and 10 rebounds from their two highest and oldest players. However, the issues don’t end there.
The team is young and looking over the league there is not anther team like the Lakers in the playoffs this season. The Portland Trail Blazers are still ripe but they have chemistry. The Lakers, in order to succeed, must get older. With the NBA Draft coming up that may be hard as whoever they draft will fall in the 20-year age range but it’s free agency and trades that the team will need to address their top concerns.
However, they cannot make the same mistakes they did a year ago and Magic Johnson will make sure of that. Deng was not worth a 4-year deal, nevermind the money because that’s just outrageous. Now the Lakers must find a way to rid themselves of two players that have lost their spot in the rotation. Forget the shutting down of Deng and Mozgov for the latter stages of the season. Truth be told they were not factors to begin with.
The organization needs to move forward with the Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac phase.
After the Draft, Johnson, Pelinka and Buss must hit the phones and see if there is a team willing to take on Deng and Mozgov’s contracts. It will be hard but there’s always ONE team willing to eat salaries. However, the Lakers may not find any takers. It’s just too many years and too big of a financial risk. If no trade can be worked out the Lakers may have to go the “amnesty” route. It makes no sense to do this but if neither player does not begin to produce by the All-Star break and the team is still struggling they may be forced to take a loss.
The talent is there and the Lakers showed that much over the last six games of the season. What they need to do to get better is cut the dead weight and hand the keys over to the younger generation.