The Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in sports, were supposed to add more glory to their trophy collection in 2022. Instead, Los Angeles failed miserably.
After the Lakers suffered a first-round exit to the Phoenix Suns in last year’s playoffs, the franchise acquired Russell Westbrook via trade to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis win a second title in three years.
That move proved costly – both literally and figuratively.
Westbrook’s $44 million salary ate into Los Angeles’ already expensive cap sheet with James and Davis on board, so the Lakers penciled in the rest of the roster with veteran minimum deals. That did not work, as Westbrook never acclimated to life in Southern California, and the Lakers continued to be plagued with injuries to key players and minimal contributions from the bench.
Their issues compounded on each other in the second half of the season. The Lakers are 4-17 out of the All-Star break, including the seven-game skid they're currently on.
In the end, the Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention in the regular season with three games left to play. The team that eliminated Los Angeles? The Suns. Poetic.
Fans on Twitter did not hold back on the Lakers following the loss:
Though there’s still three games left to play, those games are essentially mute as the Lakers’ first-round pick this year is slated to go to the New Orleans Pelicans (part of the trade that brought Davis to Los Angeles).
From that perspective, some fans are glad the Lakers’ season is over:
Since signing James as a free agent in the 2018 offseason, the Lakers have missed the playoffs two times in four seasons. They did not qualify in James’ first year with the team but won the title the following year when Davis arrived. However, this offseason won’t offer many easy solutions to Los Angeles for a title run next year.