NBA Mailbag

NBA Mailbag: Offseason of changes awaits Lakers

The Lakers' future, the Clippers' guard rotation and more are discussed as Mark Medina answers your NBA questions.

Russell Westbrook is 1 of several Lakers players whose future in L.A. may be in flux.

Finally, the Los Angeles Lakers can enjoy some relative serenity. The reason? They won’t have any more basketball games to lose this season.

The Lakers’ players may finally be able to jet off to Cancun, but the team’s front office doesn’t have such a luxury as they’re facing a massive offseason clean-up job.

So without further ado, I’ll dig into the mailbag and answer the inevitable questions about the Lakers’ offseason and more.


1. What will the Lakers do this offseason?

— @Pvark1

The Lakers didn’t waste time going after some low-hanging fruit. They fired coach Frank Vogel, a decision that seemed inevitable throughout the season that the Lakers still mishandled by allowing a leak to ESPN only minutes after the Lakers’ season-finale against Denver ended on Sunday. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka lacked the courtesy to tell Vogel directly and only when the two met at the Lakers’ facility on Monday.

Pelinka didn’t offer many specifics other than sharing they want a coach that will hold players accountable and invite collaboration with the front office (two qualities the Lakers initially gushed about Vogel when they hired him three years ago). But he revealed his hope to finalize the coaching search by the NBA Draft on June 23. Not only does that give the Lakers’ front office some time to chat with their new coach about roster needs before free agency begins on July 1. Making a move then gives the Lakers some time for certain coaches to become available following the NBA playoffs.

Don’t be surprised if the Lakers pursue Toronto’s Nick Nurse, Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers or Utah’s Quin Snyder. But all of those accomplished coaches understandably might think they are better off staying put. Despite the Lakers’ appeal with their brand, their championship history and having LeBron James, the Lakers have a lot of answers to address with their front-office leadership, how they treat coaches and how they will reassemble a broken roster.

After finishing 33-49, the Lakers decided to part ways with coach Frank Vogel after 3 seasons with the team.


2. Would the Lakers add their first-round pick to a potential Russell Westbrook trade package? Is that necessary?

— @13points33sec

My sense is that giving up a first-round pick will become necessary. That represents just how poorly Westbrook’s market has dropped following his sub-par season with the Lakers. It also does not help that Westbrook will make $47 million assuming he exercises his player option in June. Nonetheless, it seems possible the Lakers could use Westbrook and their 2027 first-round pick for multiple role players to address their offensive and defensive issues.

Expect the Lakers to prioritize landing role players that boast versatility in both position and skillset. If the Lakers don’t do this, they realistically can only make incremental changes with both retaining Malik Monk and replacing the other seven roster spots with veteran’s minimum deals.

Roster inconsistency and injuries plagued the Lakers' 2021-22 campaign and changes to the lineup seem certain for next season.


3. There’s a part of me that feels like if Kawhi Leonard were a point guard, then the Clippers would have the best collection of talent in the league. Who do you think they’ll play through when Paul George and Reggie Jackson sit?

@shalamarthagawd

The Clippers have and will continue to rely on Terance Mann to help with ball-handling duties. That initially went against what Clippers coach Tyronn Lue wanted from him. Rivers initially gave that responsibility to Mann despite Mann never actually playing point guard during his four years at Florida State. But Rivers thought otherwise because of Mann’s 6-foot-5 frame and basketball IQ.

Last season, Lue assigned ball-handling duties both to Leonard and George out of respect for their skill, and so Mann could take advantage of his skills as a wing player off the ball. But after the Clippers dealt Eric Bledsoe to Portland for Norman Powell, Lue shifted Mann back to that ball-handling spot. Lue has since believed that Mann can do it all, and therefore, has not hesitated with featuring Mann in multiple roles.

With star forward Paul George back in the fold, can LA make a serious postseason run?


NBA Trivia

Exactly 23 years ago, the former New Jersey Nets retired Buck Williams’ No  52 jersey. How many retired jerseys do the Nets franchise have?

Answer at the bottom.


Hoops Around the World

We all know that the NBA has become a global brand and that basketball has become a global game. But what fuels your basketball fandom?

Got a good basketball story to tell? Write it up and send it my way. The best essays will be used in this feature throughout the season.

We’d also love to see a photo of the hoop you play on, whether it be in your neighborhood gym or in the backyard of your driveway. Got a good image? Then pass along and we’ll feature it.


Trivia Answer

Six. The Nets have retired jerseys for Julius Erving (No. 32, April 1987), John Williamson (No. 23, Dec. 1990), Bill Melchionni (No. 25, April 1993), Drazen Petrovic (No. 3, Nov. 1993), Buck Williams (No. 52, April 1999) and Jason Kidd (No. 5, Oct. 2013).

On April 3, 1987, the New Jersey Nets retired Julius Erving's No. 32 jersey.

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NBA Digital Sr. Analyst Mark Medina will be answering questions each week in his NBA Mailbag.

How can you participate? Simply email your question to Mark here, or use your Twitter account and get your question to him here.

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