Lakers

Lakers Can Hardly Wait to Run It Back

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Yes, this season may not have ended in the fashion the Lakers would have preferred, but that should not deter fans from the fact that this season was an undeniable success.

The steps taken forward on all levels throughout the season are clear signs of a bright future for the league’s premier franchise. It’s never too early to check on the Los Angeles Lakers betting odds for next season.

“I think keeping that continuity is going to be very important,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said during he and Darvin Ham‘s joint exit interview. “We feel like we’ve got a group of special players in the locker room, they enjoy playing with each other, Darvin loves coaching them… so I would say it’s a high priority to keep our core players together.”

Pelinka’s statement alone carries massive weight throughout the franchise and its fanbase. LAL is playing winning basketball for the first time in what feels like forever. This time with little sign of a drastic roster change like years past.

CONTINUITY IS A SIMPLE PATH

The continuity Pelinka is referring to starts with retaining the core that led them to success. More specifically, retaining Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura — who are both free agents.

The Lakers reportedly intend to match any offers that Reaves or Hachimura get on the open market. Reaves is said to be worth his max extension at around $100 million, making him the most important target this summer.

The young Lakers duo earned themselves a hefty paycheck during their playoff run. The front office is willing to match whatever is offered for these two studs. That notion is promising to a fanbase that saw a championship core be gutted in exchange for two years of horrible basketball.

With Reaves and Hachimura proving that they are not only capable of being stars in their roles, but also 16-game players, retaining a core consisting of them is essential.

WHAT TO DO ELSEWHERE

When looking at the contracts of other players on the roster, LAL has options going into the summer. For all you Fantasy NBA nerds, here’s your first look at potential sleeper picks next season.

D’Angelo Russell

Russell presents the most complex situation as an unrestricted free agent. Both sides have expressed interest in reuniting, but Russell was just unplayable at the highest stage. With Kyrie Irving and Trae Young being linked to the franchise, Russell’s time in LA may have already ended.

Whether they ride it out with the eight-year vet or work out a possible sign-and-trade, they have many options to turn to should they work out a deal with Russell.

Dennis Schröder

Schröder and the Lakers are in a similar situation as 2021’s free agency. ‘The Menace’ came in on a minimum contract and outplayed it in the playoffs once again. Will he learn from the last time and settle for what he’s worth? Or will both sides part ways and miss each other once again. Regardless of the result, Schröder deserves to be back on the roster next season.

Malik Beasley

Beasley saw no minutes for the better part of the playoffs but takes up $16.5 million in cap space. The Lakers will be picking up his team option this summer but for a reason many expect — a trade. Beasley’s contract mixed with some picks and another player could render a considerable win-now return. Beasley will be back, but likely as a future trade piece.

HAM DESERVES HIS FLOWERS

The 2022-23 season for the Lakers went from being a disaster to a complete success. Most of the credit for the turnaround should go directly to head coach Darvin Ham. His talent has always hindered on his ability to connect with his players. The way that he was able to keep the pre-deadline locker room engaged with him made the post-deadline journey a breeze, and that converted to success. There were some bumps on the way.

But overall, Ham’s first season as Los Angeles’ lead man was a great experience.

Ham exudes a desirable confidence to him that many Lakers fans have been able to get behind, and it translates to the locker room.

“Campaign number two starts today,” Pelinka said of Ham when asked how they’d prepare for next season. Ham’s second season with LA is sure to be great because it is starting right now. His year of experience and support from the front office should make it known league-wide that the Lakers are ready to come back and take what’s theirs.

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