LA Lakers Could Desperately Pursue 'Third Star' If They Suffer Early Playoff Elimination

Anthony Davis and LeBron James bump body after Lakers' victory
Gettyimages | Kevin C. Cox
Basketball

The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2020-21 NBA season with the goal of defending their throne and winning back-to-back NBA titles. However, after a strong start, the Lakers have struggled in the second half of the season, especially after their two best players, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, suffered injuries.

While the Lakers managed to reach the postseason, they are on the verge of suffering a first-round elimination at the hands of the Western Conference No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns.

Early Playoff Exit Affects Lakers' 2021 Offseason Plans

LeBron James and Anthony Davis shaking hands after a successful play
Gettyimages | Douglas P. DeFelice

The outcome of the 2021 Playoffs would be vital for the Lakers as it's expected to play a major role in their plan in the offseason. If they fail to beat the Suns in the first round and go home early, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report believes that the Lakers could aggressively explore the possibility of adding a "third star" this summer.

"The notion of a third star may drive the Lakers' summer if Los Angeles is unable to weather this playoff storm, no matter how long Davis remains sidelined with this current day-to-day injury. The Lakers, after all, coveted Kawhi Leonard before he chose to sign with the Clippers in 2019."
 

Lakers Need Help On The Offensive End

Whether they manage to advance to the Western Conference semifinals or not, the Lakers will need to improve their roster around James and Davis this summer. The Lakers may currently possess the best defensive rating in the league, but they are noticeably struggling on the offensive end of the floor.

This season, the Lakers only rank No. 24 in NBA's offensive efficiency, scoring 107.5 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN. If they want to keep their status as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference, they should strongly consider adding another established superstar who could step up and lead their offense when James and Davis need to rest or suffer an injury.

Will The Lakers Pursue Kawhi Leonard Again This Summer?

Kawhi Leonard reaction after a successful play
Gettyimages | Kevin C. Cox

When they successfully acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers aggressively pursued Kawhi Leonard in the 2019 free agency. However, instead of signing with them, Leonard ended up joining the other team situated in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers could once again chase Leonard this summer as he's expected to decline the player option on his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

If the Clippers implode this season, most people believe that Leonard would strongly consider entertaining offers from other teams in the 2021 free agency.

Kyle Lowry A Natural Target For LA Lakers

Kyle Lowry surveying the floor
Gettyimages | Mike Ehrmann

Another superstar who could be on the Lakers' radar in the offseason is veteran point guard Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors. Lowry has played the final year of his contract with the Raptors and set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. According to Fischer, Lowry would be a "natural target" for the Lakers in the potential sign-and-trade scenario involving Dennis Schroder.

"A natural target could be the player the Lakers already chased by dangling Schroder's name: Kyle Lowry. Considering the Lakers' salary-cap situation, though, the only cap gymnastics they could use to obtain Lowry would be a sign-and-trade."