The Lakers were officially eliminated from the play-in tournament on Wednesday, capping an epic flameout for arguably the highest-profile franchise in the NBA.
They spent $164.4 million this offseason (4th in NBA) and began with the second-best odds to win the Finals (+350). But while the top three spenders at least made the play-in game, the Lakers will miss the postseason for the seventh time in nine years — and only the 12th in franchise history.
Things will only get murkier this offseason.
- Coach Frank Vogel ($4M AAV) is expected to be fired with one year left on his deal.
- Both Russell Westbrook and LeBron James have one year left on their contracts.
- Westbrook (18.8 PPG) had arguably the worst year of his career, but is owed $47M next season.
- James averaged the most points in his career (30.3), and he’s owed $44.5M next year.
With six players on the books earning a combined $146.6 million next season, the Lakers must decide how much of the wreck to salvage.
But the disgruntled James turns 38 next year and will be a UFA in 2023.
The Lakers have little trade capital outside of their Big Three and can’t even use the poor season to nab a top player in the draft — the 9-seed Pelicans own all their first-round picks through 2025.