Los Angeles Lakers: Questionable trades, injuries and a falling star ... what went wrong with NBA team

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis before a game against the Golden State Warriors.

(CNN)Los Angeles' nickname is the "City of Angels," but this past season for the Los Angeles Lakers has been one conjured straight from the center of Dante's 'Inferno.'

The team -- one so accustomed to success -- endured a rough 2021/22, failing to reach the playoffs after a run of eight consecutive defeats at the end of the season knocked them out of contention.
Despite having a roster that boasts superstars such as LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the Lakers fell short of expectations, with head coach Frank Vogel ultimately paying the price
    From questionable offseason moves to injuries and failing stars, there have been a litany of reasons for the team's disappointing season.
      And with so many questions surrounding the team's future -- a new head coach will have to be found and the roster will have to rebuilt with limited tools -- the future around the Lakers is looking decidedly unclear.
        LeBron James #6 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a break in the action at Crypto.com Arena on April 1, 2022.

        Making moves

        Two years ago, the Lakers were world champions.
          Behind a smothering defense and their two superstars -- James and Davis -- the team won the 2020 NBA championship title in the Covid-19 secure bubble in Florida.
          But this season's version of the team is a shadow of that one.
          After last season's playoff defeat to the Phoenix Suns -- a playoff series in which Davis suffered an injury which turned the tide -- a roster overhaul took place.
          The team traded for 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in exchange for a first round pick, two future second round picks and a cast of previously important players -- Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
          They also lost core players Alex Caruso and Dennis Schröder in free agency, replacing them with a mix of older veterans, such as Carmelo Anthony, or bench players.
          With the addition of Westbrook, the Lakers thought they were in prime position for a championship run, and the bookmakers agreed with them.
          Like when the Golden State Warriors brought in Kevin Durant to join with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson -- a squad which went on to win two titles -- Lakers fans thought they might have had their own 'Big Three.'
          LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook: sounds pretty good, right?
          However, from early on, it was obvious things weren't all rosy.
          James warming up before a game at the Amway Center.

          Problem to problem

          The Lakers are typically one of the most talked about teams every year in the NBA, but with James and Davis paired with Westbrook, their season's prospects dominated the airways.
          With endless amounts of hype behind them and fans clamoring to see the King, the Brow and Brodie for the first time, the Lakers opened the season with a home game against the Warriors.
          Despite 34 points from James and 33 from Davis, LA disappointed home fans with a 121-114 loss.
          But that's just the first game, right? They're still getting warmed up.
          A convincing home defeat to the Phoenix Suns followed just three days later.
          But they're two of the best teams out there, right? It'll get better.
          It didn't. The team went 4-3 in October and 8-8 in November as it struggled for consistency. A Vogel Lakers team previously dined out on its defense. But this team -- with older veteran players and less flexibility -- couldn't rely on that.
          And the offensive cohesion wasn't there either.
          The James and Davis relationship had always been key to the Lakers success, with other role players happy to play their part. The addition of Westbrook didnt' appear to quite work, with another ball-dominant player unsettling the team, resulting in oscillating results.
          LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook look on from the sidelines during the Lakers' game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on January 28, 2022 in Charlotte.
          Then on December 17, Davis hobbled off the court after suffering an apparent knee injury. It was confirmed later that he had sprained his left MCL.
          The removal of Davis -- the Robin to James' Batman -- was a devastating blow for the Lakers.
          Davis missed 17 games, returning in late January, only to suffer a right ankle injury which once again had him on the sidelines.
          Without Davis, the Lakers were a team bereft of quality, and although James was having a dominant season -- despite it being his 19th in the league -- they could not overcome it.
          In total, the Lakers' 'Big Three' played just 21 games together due to injuries, which limited the time for chemistry to build.
          Their failure to qualify for the postseason, with the amount of money and trade capital invested in the team, has been seen as a huge failure, and one from which Vogel did not escape with his job.
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