If most other teams in the NBA had an offseason that resembles the Los Angeles Lakers‘ it would have been hailed a success. Unfortunately for Lakers’ front office, fans of the franchise are accustomed to a certain way of living which contains a championship contending team.
On the face of it, the Lakers are a better team than they were when they finished with last season’s franchise worst record. They have re-signed some of the better talent from last season’s roster, but it’s the new acquisitions that should see the team improve on 27 wins.
Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson arrive in L.A. via the draft, and both will have the opportunity to play in 2014-15. Randle was at one point in the same conversation as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid before injury concerns arose. Luckily for the Lakers, Randle dropped to seventh, and those worries about the long-term injury have been quashed.
Randle will play a role in the team from day one. His performances in the Summer League were rusty, but that should be expected after such a long layoff. He did show signs of what fans could be in store for by the time the season starts. He’s capable off the dribble, but it’s his strength and soft touch around the rim that will be the focal point for opposition scouts.
Clarkson impressed in the Summer League and should expect some time on the court with the big boys. With Steve Nash unlikely to play a full season and Kendall Marshall being picked up by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers are short on point guards.
Jeremy Lin is arguably the team’s biggest scalp. Bringing with him 1.36 billion fans from China, Lin’s arrival also contains a future first-round pick from the Houston Rockets. Lin is a salary dump for next season but does add some quality to the roster. Filling the void left by Marshall and Jordan Farmar, Lin will see a lot more time on the court in Los Angeles than he did in Houston. Fans are hopeful that given the opportunity, Lin will produce some of the ‘Linsane’ performances that made him the popular player he is today.
Ed Davis has potential. He’s long and athletic and can be the 2014-15 equivalent of Jordan Hill now that he will likely be the team’s starter. His stint with the Memphis Grizzlies stalled his career as he all of a sudden became a bench-warmer. He is going to be determined and raring to go, so expect big things out of Davis this upcoming season.
Carlos Boozer wasn’t what most Lakers fan were after. His numbers have been on a steady decline, and he’s coming off a career-worst season. The positive of this signing is that Boozer arrives via the waivers, so he’s very cheap. Adding a veteran for minuscule money is rarely a bad thing, and should he not produce, it’s not going to cripple the franchise. Perhaps a change of scenery will trigger a revival for Boozer, who once was a dominant force when facing the Lakers.
At the end of the day, the Lakers added two rookies who will play this season, a starting point guard and first-round pick while giving up virtually nothing, a young and athletic backup big man and a cheap veteran power forward.
The offseason has been a relative success despite the overdrawn expectations of the most optimistic fans. With still a little room to move, the Lakers can add another piece or two, but as it stands, the Lakers are on the up ever so slightly. They are far from championship contenders, but for most teams, the goal each season is to improve on the previous. The Lakers can achieve that goal with this roster.