NBA: Soul searching ahead for Lakers after missing playoffs

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Security personnel stand in front of a billboard with an image of Los Angeles Lakers basketball players outside the venue that was scheduled to hold fan events ahead of an NBA China game between Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

LOS ANGELES— Big changes are likely to be in store for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason after their hopes of making the NBA playoffs were dashed when they fell 121-110 to the Suns in Phoenix on Tuesday.

The game marked the seventh consecutive loss for the 31-48 squad that went into the season with lofty expectations after adding veteran guard Russell Westbrook to the tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

What was supposed to be a heart-warming coming home story for the Long Beach native and former league MVP Westbrook quickly turned nightmarish amid injuries to James and Davis which prevented the core from ever really finding a rhythm.

The three only played 21 games together, going a lackluster 11-10 in those outings, and Westbrook’s future with the team is now in doubt after he posted some of the worst numbers of his career in the purple and gold.

Asked whether he would like to return next season in the hopes of getting more time on the court with James and Davis, the 33-year-old said he would.

“That’s the plan, but nothing is promised,” Westbrook told reporters.

“You kind of have to take it one day at a time and you’ve got to play the cards you are dealt.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 05: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Carmelo Anthony #7 during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on April 05, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Carmelo Anthony #7 during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on April 05, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP 

“Yes, we want to see what that looks like over the course of an 82-game season but we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed either. I hope we’ll have a chance to do so in the future.”

The Lakers were particularly bad after February’s All-Star break and are currently 17 games under .500 with three contests remaining.

“Our goal was to win a championship,” said Davis, who has played in just 40 games this season due to ankle and knee injuries.

“I felt we had the pieces but injuries got in the way of that and that was the difference in our season.

“Even though we lost games where all of us were on the floor, I think we are three great players who would have figured it out if we logged more minutes together.”

Most expect the first change to come at the head coaching position, with Frank Vogel possibly being replaced by Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder.

“We brought integrity to the process, we just fell short through a disjointed season,” said Vogel, who led the team to a championship in the COVID-19 secure bubble in 2020.

“We’re all extremely disappointed.”

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