The Los Angeles Lakers have been eliminated from the 2023 NBA playoffs, falling to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals 4-0. While this was ultimately a lot farther than many expected the Lakers to go after a rough start to the season, the series ending a sweep is a tough look for LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the front office. Here’s a look at how the Lakers shape up heading into the offseason.
2022-23 season recap
The Lakers started 2-10, and there were vocal calls from several directions on the necessity of making a trade to improve the roster. No major deals came until the deadline, when the Lakers suddenly were infused with some important rotation players to support James and Davis. Even though James was sidelined late in the season with a foot issue, the Lakers kept things afloat and made the playoffs after a comeback in the first play-in game.
LA then defeated the Grizzlies and defending champions Warriors in the first two rounds, which fueled excitement that this team could actually go all the way to the Finals. Unfortunately, the Lakers ran into the top seed in the West and fell in four games.
2023 offseason priorities
There are three key free agents the Lakers will have to make a decision on. D’Angelo Russell’s market looks thin, and he’s unlikely to land the contract he had previously after this series against Denver. We’ll see if the Lakers want to bring him back. Austin Reaves is going to command a significant contract, but he wants to remain in LA and the team wants him back. That seems like an easy move. Rui Hachimura had a good playoff run and is a restricted free agent, but the team is set to want him back too. Russell may be gone, but Reaves and Hachimura are likely to return.
Lonnie Walker and Dennis Schroder will also be some key players the Lakers have to make a decision on. Malik Beasley’s team option will probably be declined to create some cap room, although the Lakers will try to bring him back. The first option for the team will likely be to chase a big name as its third “star” before bringing back the key pieces from this year’s group. Everything will still revolve around James and Davis, who will hope they can stay healthy together for a full season.