The Los Angeles Lakers claimed their 17th NBA championship last season, defeating the Miami Heat in 4-2 fashion. Though they lost a few key contributors from that campaign, many believe that the Lakers actually upgraded their roster during this offseason.
We’ll start by mentioning the players that left the Lakers, be it by way of a trade or free agency.
Rajon Rondo played a big role for the Lakers in the playoffs, but he’ll be suiting up for the Atlanta Hawks on a multi-year deal in the coming season. Dwight Howard provided a spark in the paint. Like Rondo, though, Howard decided to leave the Lakers. The former Slam Dunk champ agreed to the terms of a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. Danny Green, one of the best shooters on the team, was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Javale McGee, a fan-favorite, was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. And let’s not forget about Avery Bradley, who signed a two-year deal with the Heat.
That sounds like a lot to lose for a championship-winning team, and it is. But consider the names that the Lakers managed to add after the fact.
As part of the aforementioned Danny Green trade, the Lakers acquired Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though Rondo is an experienced veteran who showed his prowess in the playoffs, most analysts feel that this was an upgrade at the point guard position.
In what was a bit of an inner-city coup, the Lakers managed to acquire Montrezl Harrell from the rival Clippers. Harrell, who earned Sixth Man of the Year honors, should help to fill the void that was created by Howard’s departure. And in another savvy move, the Lakers signed free agent wingman Wesley Matthews, who shot 36.4 percent from downtown last season.
The Lakers weren’t finished yet…
Several teams were believed to be interested in his services, but Markieff Morris eventually agreed to re-sign with the Lakers on a one-year deal. Morris was said to be receiving calls from both Los Angeles teams, but he ultimately chose the Purple and Gold.
Morris appeared in all 21 of the Lakers’ playoff games last season, averaging 5.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. His role was limited in the regular season, but he eventually earned more playing time in the postseason.
In another sound re-signing, the Lakers managed to retain guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who led the team in three-point percentage last season with a career-best 38.5 percent mark from beyond the arc. According to NBA.com, he is the fifth Lakers player to net 90 or more three-pointers in three or more individual seasons with the team (joining Kobe Bryant, Nick Van Exel, Derek Fisher, Eddie Jones), having done so in each of his first three seasons in Los Angeles.
In what may be their biggest offseason move yet, the Lakers signed Spanish-born center Marc Gasol. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Gasol signed a two-year, $5.3 million deal to play with the champs.
A former Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-Star, Gasol has earned a name for himself in the NBA. However, his production has taken a dip in recent years. For the 2019-20 regular season, the 35-year-old center racked up averages of 7.5 points on 42.7 percent shooting from the field, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. While these numbers are a far cry from his most productive campaigns, he can still knock down the long ball at a solid clip (38.5 percent last season). Furthermore, he’s still a solid defender, which should serve the Lakers well after losing Howard and McGee.
Notably, Gasol was actually drafted by the Lakers with the 48th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. However, he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a package for his brother, Pau, before ever playing a game. While playing alongside the late, great Kobe Bryant, Pau went on to earn a pair of championships with the Lakers.
The final piece of the Lakers’ 2020 offseason will be re-signing All-Star Anthony Davis, who is expected to receive a max contract that will pay him $32.7 million for the coming season. Most experts believe the former Kentucky Wildcat will eventually sign, but he appears to be mulling over his contract options. Perhaps the Lakers’ offseason moves will entice him to sign the full five-year max contract, which would be valued at roughly $189 million. If not, he has other avenues, including two, three and four-year variants.
All things considered, we’ll give the Lakers an A- grade for the 2020 offseason. Significant pieces were lost, while others were gained. It won’t be a plug-and-play affair, as there will be some adjusting along the way. Still, it seems Los Angeles is in prime shape to defend its crown.