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With Lakers Eliminated From Playoffs, What's Next For L.A.?

Well, that Lakers vs. Mavericks series didn't turn out at all as Los Angeles expected, and the Lakers were eliminated from the 2011 NBA playoffs. Now that we are one day removed from the Mavericks' stunning 36-point blowout win to complete their sweep of the two-time defending champs, the time has come to figure out just where the Lakers go from here. This is a quick overview at the state of the Lakers heading into the offseason.

First things first: let's leave aside the Dwight Howard talk for now. Sure, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had playoff performances that were less than ideal, and the idea that another franchise center might land in L.A. is certainly an intriguing idea, but it is so far removed from reality that it isn't worth considering...yet. Howard is under contract for 2011-2012, with a player option for 2012-2013. He hasn't signed an extension with Orlando, but until Howard essentially demands his way out of Orlando, Carmelo-style, nothing will happen.

The Lakers already have nine players under contract for 2011-2012 for a total salary of $88,622,877 per Hoops Hype. The salary cap in 2010-2011 was $58.044 million, and the luxury tax was set at $70.307 million, meaning anything above that figure is taxed at a rate of dollar per dollar. It is unsure at what level the salary cap will be set next season, if there even is a next season (with a potential lockout pending), but we do know the Lakers will be well above the cap.

Under Contract (9): Kobe Bryant, Gasol, Bynum, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Luke Walton, Steve Blake, Derek Fisher, Devin Ebanks

Club Option (1): Derrick Caracter, at $788,872

Player Options (2): Shannon Brown, at $2.4 million; and Matt Barnes, at $1.9 million

Brown opted out of his contract last season, too, but returned to the Lakers to go for the three-peat. After putting up essentially the same season, perhaps slightly more efficient, Brown figures to cash in somewhere not in Los Angeles.

Free Agents (3): Joe Smith, Theo Ratliff, Trey Johnson

For more news and information on the Lakers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.