The Los Angeles Lakerswere eliminated for the second straight year in the Western Conference Semifinals, this time by the Oklahoma City Thunder, which leaves further questions on the future of some of the players. Did Pau Gasol already played his last game as a Laker during the Game 5 loss? Will Andrew Bynum be traded or extended? These questions also linger on the minds of the owner of Los Angeles Lakers tickets especially with the way their team has exited the playoffs.
There are still a lot of questions surrounding the Lakerland, considering how much money the management has spent to build this team. With a payroll of nearly $87 million, the Lakers would definitely look to reduce that total to have some kind of flexibility in the future. And to do that, trades must be made but who’s going where?
Los Angeles already tried trading Gasol before the start of the season for Chris Paul but the deal got nixed. With his performance throughout the playoffs, it seems that Gasol would likely be the first one to go. After the failed trade, Gasol clearly struggled for much of the season and it clearly showed during the playoffs. He averaged 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.1 blocks but only shot 43 percent from the field. He even had a game (Game 6 vs. Denver) where he had only 3 points and 3 rebounds. During his exit interview, he even acknowledged the fact that it could be his last days in LA.
“It’s still very much possible that this is one of my last days,” Gasol said.
The 31-year-old Gasol still has two years and $38.2 million under his contract and the Lakers would love to get rid of that big money off their books.
Another big man in question is Bynum, who made his first all-star team this season and was recently named to the All-NBA Second Team. He was certainly terrific during the regular season averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 56 percent shooting. During the playoffs, Bynum’s numbers were similar as the regular season, 17-11-3-48%. Bynum’s play has progressed this season but it was his off-the-court issues that concern the team. He was even fined for several infractions by the team.
Los Angeles has a team option on Bynum’s contract which would definitely be picked up. The question after that is whether he would be extended or traded. True, Bynum has the size and skills quite rare nowadays among big men, giving him command of serious dollars but it’s his intangibles that are in question. Can he be the Lakers next franchise cornerstone after Kobe Bryant steps away from the game? Would he be able to handle all the responsibilities that come with it? The success that Bynum had this season, though, indicates mixed results.
Players who will be on the Lakers payroll next season barring any trade are Kobe Bryant ($27.8 million), Gasol ($19 million), Metta World Peace ($7.25 million), Steve Blake ($4million), Josh McRoberts ($3.1 million), and Christian Eyenga ($1.2 million).
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