Last week, I offered what is arguably the worst-case scenario for the remainder of the 2022 offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers. Take a look at this article to at least know that things could be much worse than we possibly see by the end of this summer.
But let’s not just wallow in negativity. Instead, let’s see what the best-case scenario for the Lakers’ 2022 offseason might look like. I would say that we are already heading in that direction with the official hiring of head coach Darvin Ham as well as the retention of assistant Phil Handy. However, that was probably the easiest part of the offseason for the team. Now comes the hardest part.
There are still a number of different paths the organization can take. Below, I think I’ve found some of the more optimistic roads that could lead the franchise to its 18th championship.
If any of the following events occur, I will permanently move my predictive powers to Las Vegas and join LeBron as the nation’s newest billionaire.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis get injected with Super Soldier Serum
It’s been said ad nauseam for the past two seasons, but even optimal training and roster building will be insufficient if LeBron and AD can’t stay healthy.
And in each of the past two years, they haven’t. But how can they solve this problem? It’s well documented that LeBron takes care of his body as well or better than any athlete already. And while AD has a stigma of being injury-prone, even dating back to his Pelicans days, most of his injuries over the past two seasons have come from freak accidents involving his lower extremities.
We’ve all seen the Avengers movies, right? Well, in this case, it turns out the Super Soldier Serum is real. Kurt Rambis is finally using his sleazy, ghostly GM powers for good, leveraging Jeanie Buss’ worldwide contacts to find a lab that successfully replicated the serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
Both LeBron and AD are injected with it, which means you’ll have to hit them with a runaway Mack truck to cause even the slightest sprained ankle.
They never get hurt again in their careers, however, they struggle to adapt to hide their now super-powered strength and agility. The NBA can’t know that.
Adam Silver and the rest of the league get a little curious after LeBron causes a blackout in Southern California with his first dunk of the season and AD pulverizes a fifth-row fan’s popcorn with a volleyball block in the same game.
A trade of Russell Westbrook for Damian Lillard fails
I know what you’re thinking, “Wait… does that sound bad?”
It’s not, and you’ll find out why in a moment.
Yes, in this scenario, the Trail Blazers are actually entertaining the advances of the Lakers by putting together a package that would send Russell Westbrook in exchange for Damian Lillard. The Lakers’ interest in Lillard comes as no surprise, as it was reported last offseason that Dame was part of their “Plan A” after he and LeBron James were seen laughing together during a Sparks game in the summer of 2021.
The Lakers’ offer for Dame will include their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks with Russ, a worthy expense considering how Dame’s shooting ability would fit alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis. However, the Lakers end up ending the seemingly favorable deal. Why?
Nets trade Kevin Durant to Lakers for Russ
Many have speculated about the possibility of a trade between Kyrie Irving and Westbrook. The Lakers should probably pony up one, if not both legally tradeable first rounds in order to get a deal done, as Irving is – like Dame – a much better fit alongside the team’s two true superstars than their current third banana.
However, in my imagined branch of the multiverse, instead of trading for Kyrie, the Lakers pull off one of the most shocking trades in NBA history. First, the Nets give in and re-sign Kyrie for the maximum long-term extension he wants. However, instead of placating Durant by re-signing Kyrie, it turns out he’s as fed up with Kyrie’s deception as James Harden and just about everyone around the NBA.
After Kyrie’s deal news, KD continues his ‘The ETCs’ podcast, cursing Sean Marks, Steve Nash AND Kyrie while publicly and privately demanding a trade to the Lakers to form his first superteam since leaving. of Golden State. The Nets bow under pressure from KD and decide to cash in his contract for the picks while opening their books for the 2023 offseason when Westbrook’s contract expires.
And for the Lakers… LeBron. A.D.KD.
Laker fans may have thought they had a “Big 3” last season when the team acquired Russ, but as wildly optimistic as it was, the potential heights of these three pale in comparison to what this three-headed monster would do.
Talen Horton-Tucker becomes the next Damian Lillard
And while the Lakers’ frontcourt is understood, they would still need someone to replace their starting point guard. And besides their good fortune, who needs Dame when you have an equally good guy 10 years younger who only makes $10 million a year?
THT’s leap comes when he locks himself in a gym all summer, spending his time shooting 3-point after 3-point until his legs give out under him. After that, he moves on to perfecting the step back, 3-point logo that Dame has mastered.
In the end, the only thing separating THT from superstardom was a consistent jumper.
He shoots 40% from deep, wins the 3-point contest and becomes the team’s fourth-best player, with Lakers fans far less worried LeBron James will one day walk away armed with the knowledge that the franchise’s future is in the hands of THT.
Austin Reaves and Stanley Johnson take massive action
Austin Reaves and Stanley Johnson are two players (almost) guaranteed to return from last season. With such a limited selection of free agents available this offseason, major jumps from these two young players would dramatically raise the ceiling of what this team can be, even with The Biggest 3+THT™ already under contract.
Reaves walks into camp having added 20 pounds of muscle, listening to Alex Caruso’s great shots in the weight room looking absolutely yellow. Gone are the days of opposing offenses even trying to go after him, as Reaves’ physical supremacy even spawns a number of ‘random’ drug tests.
Johnson becomes a better version of PJ Tucker – one of the most versatile wing defenders in the NBA who also shoots 90% from 3-point corners.
Now I’m sorry that nothing of that will happen. But hey, I promised an overdone best-case scenario after my overdone (and depressing) worst-case scenario last week.
I believe there are realistic aspects to the aforementioned dreamscape. Let’s hope the Lakers trade Westbrook. Let’s hope LeBron and AD find a legal way to stay healthy all season long. Hope THT, Reaves and Johnson all do the jump. All this is possible… (despite the professions of KD and Dame).
With a targeted offseason and a bit of luck, who knows? The Lakers could find their way back to the promised land for the No. 18 championship.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed at itunes, Spotify, embroiderer Where Google Podcasts. You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.