2014 Los Angeles Lakers

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Los Angeles Lakers (Last Year: 27-55)

2013-14 Season Summary:
For just the third time in 37 years, the Los Angeles Lakers missed out on the playoffs, and in the process, finished with their worst record since moving from Minneapolis. Injuries to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash played a major factor in the Lakers’ abysmal season as journeymen players filled the roster.

With only three players guaranteed under contract for the 2014-15 season and a ton of cap space, the Lakers figure to be one of the most aggressive teams this offseason as L.A. undergoes a massive facelift.

2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Robert Sacre

PF: #Ryan Kelly

SF: ^Nick Young/#Kent Bazemore

SG: Kobe Bryant

PG: Steve Nash/*Kendall Marshall

NBA Free Agents:

C-Pau Gasol (UFA)

PF-Jordan Hill (UFA)

SF-Xavier Henry (UFA)

C-Chris Kaman (UFA)

SG-Jodie Meeks (UFA)

SF-Wesley Johnson (UFA)

PG-Jordan Farmar (UFA)

SG-MarShon Brooks (UFA)

#PF-Ryan Kelly (RFA)

#SG-Kent Bazemore (RFA)

^SG-Nick Young (PO)

*PG-Kendall Marshall (TO)

2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $35.3 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Another Star: If Kobe Bryant’s recent injury issues aren’t enough to scare you, how about the fact that he will be 36 years old by the start of the season? Even if he does return at 100%, you cannot expect the 27 points per night Kobe Bryant to re-emerge. Therefore, the Lakers need to find another star capable of being the alpha dog, which they have the cap space to do.

Carmelo Anthony’s name will certainly be linked to L.A. in free agency and expect this club to come up in trade speculation with some of the best available players. Expect the Lakers to be very active this offseason with their cap space and trying to swing a deal or two to add some veteran pieces in hopes of making one last-ditch effort at getting Kobe another ring.

2. A frontcourt: Robert Sacre is the lone post player under contract for next season so, yeah, the Lakers have to find some bodies inside. Unless Pau Gasol is willing to take a hometown discount, the franchise might be best off letting him walk. If L.A. ends up keeping the seventh-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, forwards like Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon of Arizona, and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh should all be targets. Still, the team needs to find some veterans who can come in and contribute right away.

3. Defense: As one would expect from a Mike D’Antoni-coached club, defense was practically non-existent for the Lakers this past season as they allowed the second-most points in the NBA. The aging Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash form a susceptible defensive backcourt, so finding a rim protector and lockdown perimeter defender who can take some of the pressure off Kobe will be essential to the team’s turnaround.

4. Coaching Stability: The last two hires of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antonio haven’t exactly panned out, so perhaps it is time to look in a different direction. Derek Fisher seems to be the hot name on the coaching search, and the former Laker would make sense even though he is not technically retired yet. Other names have been floated around like Kurt Rambis and Alvin Gentry, but those types of coaches have failed elsewhere and seem to be more short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions.

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