After reinventing the roster at the 2023 trade deadline and reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers brought the core back in the offseason to make another run in the 2023-24 season.
The Lakers were one of the biggest winners of the offseason and it is really hard for fans not to be excited about the ceiling of the team. Not only is last season’s core returning but it has arguably gotten better as well.
As it currently stands the team has 13 players on the roster and the next move has been obvious for weeks now; the Lakers are going to bring in a stretch five to bolster the frontcourt. As obvious as that need is, the fact of the matter is that the Lakers could have addressed this much earlier in the offseason and kept it from being a need in the first place.
Simply put, the Lakers are likely going to regret letting two players from last year’s team walk away, even though the team gave up on one of them back in February.
The Lakers will quickly miss Thomas Bryant and Mo Bamba next season.
Los Angeles needs a center that can space the floor and already had that on the roster last season. Thomas Bryant shot over 40% from limited attempts from three and Mo Bamba is one of the better young floor-spacing centers in the sport.
Bryant was traded at the deadline as he reportedly wanted a bigger role elsewhere. To replace him, the Lakers traded fewer assets for Bamba, who Darvin Ham hardly trusted before he ended up getting hurt.
Bryant now finds himself on the Miami Heat while Bamba is on the Philadelphia 76ers; two teams that are great fits for the respective big men. With solid fits and a chance to actually get playing time, there is a good chance that both Bryant and Bamba put together solid seasons.
It is not going to be a good look if the Lakers have to sign someone from the scrap heap to add depth to the rotation while Bryant and Bamba are playing well. But then again, Rob Pelinka has consistently struggled in evaluating centers, so perhaps this is more of the same for fans.
Regardless, as great as the offseason (and deadline) was for the Lakers, the front office is not perfect and the situation at the center position is a reminder of that.