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Shaquille O'Neal Reveals What He'd Do With The Lakers

A closeup of NBA legend Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal.

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 09: Shaquille O'Neal reacts during the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on September 9, 2016 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Saying the Los Angeles Lakers fell short of expectations this season is a massive understatement. They entered the 2021-22 campaign as favorites to take the Western Conference, only to miss the play-in tournament at 33-49.

The organization must come up with solutions this offseason. Former Lakers legend Shaquille O'Neal offered his assessment on how to save the sinking ship.

In an interview with Rory Carroll of Reuters, the Hall of Fame center said the team needs to embrace a youth movement around the nucleus of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.

"So if they can keep LeBron, Russell, and AD, everyone else needs to be very young," O'Neal said. "You can't have five or six guys in their upper 30s because the league is getting younger and faster.

"To have, as Chuck (Charles Barkley) says, old geezers running up against these young boys, it's not going to work over an 82-game stretch."

Along with James and Westbrook, the Lakers ended the season with six other players over 30 years old. (Davis is 29.) That includes the 36-year-old Dwight Howard and 37-year-old Carmelo Anthony, who both played on one-year deals.

The Lakers have a relatively clean slate to rebuild their roster around the aforementioned Big Three, but it won't be easy. James, Davis, Westbrook will take up over $129 million in cap space next season.

Those bloated contracts could lead them to shop Westbrook, who recently cleared all Lakers-related content from his Instagram page.

Shaq also identified Mark Jackson as his pick to replace Frank Vogel as head coach. He said Jackson made the Golden State Warriors "a very sexy brand to watch" before Steve Kerr led them to three championships.

Aiming to get young is easier said than done, as the Lakers must find the right players with limited spending power. Still, seeking fresher legs with more upside represents a better team-building approach for Los Angeles than chasing former superstars far past their prime.