NBA offseason guide: Big questions facing the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers traded for guards Malik Beasley and D'Angelo Russell in February. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were essentially two different teams in 2022-23. The first team scuffled to a 2-10 start and was languishing near the bottom of the Western Conference standings at the midway point. The second team was one of the league's best, going 10 games over .500 across the final 26 games of the season and reaching the Western Conference finals.

Now the Lakers face another offseason full of questions, starting with which kind of team do they want to be?

Offseason guides for every eliminated team

State of the roster

2022-23 record: 43-39

Free agents: Troy Brown Jr., D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley (T), Wenyen Gabriel, Rui Hachimura (R), Austin Reaves (R), Dennis Schroder, Tristan Thompson, Lonnie Walker IV and Scotty Pippen Jr. (R)

General manager Rob Pelinka and the front office have a decision to make. Do they search for a third star again, such as Kyrie Irving, but at the expense of their depth? This is extremely unlikely for two reasons. It would be a repeat of the first half of the season when the Lakers struggled with a top-heavy roster. Also, building a roster to compete for a championship centered on three players earning $130 million is extremely difficult under the new collective bargaining agreement. So did posting the league's second-best record after the trade deadline (18-8) and reaching the conference finals confirm the Lakers should bypass cap flexibility and focus on retaining their young free agents? This is more likely when considering the Lakers owe a first-round pick to New Orleans in 2024 and then Utah in 2027.