The Lakers are now in the midst of a rebuild, with LeBron James joining them on July 1. They’ve traded Russell Westbrook to the Thunder for Chris Paul and five players. This is what fans need to know about the trade.
The nba rumors: lakers is a question that has been asked and answered many times before. This article will provide you with 10 of the biggest questions surrounding the Lakers after the Russell Westbrook trade.
After trading Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 overall pick to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the summer’s biggest blockbuster. After a disappointing first-round playoff exit last season, the Lakers have a new big three with the addition of Westbrook.
Despite the addition of Westbrook, the Lakers’ franchise is beset by doubts. This team will be a contender if four-time MVP LeBron James, one-time MVP Russell Westbrook, and former MVP finalist Anthony Davis are all on the same team. With that said, the Lakers still have a lot of work ahead of them, and these ten questions must be addressed.
10. Is it possible for LeBron James and Russell Westbrook to coexist?
Both players are playing a game that is very similar. Since 2005, LeBron hasn’t had a usage percentage of less than 30%. Westbrook’s game calls for him to be heavily involved in the offense. Westbrook has led the league in usage rate two times, reaching a career high of 41.7 percent in 2016-2017, according to advanced stats. Since 2010-2011, Westbrook’s usage rate in his team’s offense has surpassed 30% each season. Six of those seasons (2011-2018) resulted in at least five offensive win shares.
You must also consider that when he was the team’s point guard, the Lakers were at their best offensively. LeBron James led the league in assists in 2019-2020, assisting on 49.1 percent of the team’s offensive plays. One player, most likely LeBron, will have to switch positions as a result of the move.
9. Who will make three-pointers?
If no upgrades are forthcoming, this Lakers team will struggle from beyond the arc. Many thought Kuzma and Harrell were traded in exchange for Buddy Hield, who would have been a perfect fit for this team. Rather, they swapped their top two three-point shooters.
Last season, Kuzma made 137 three-point field goals and Caldwell-Pope made 120. The only player who made more than 100 three-pointers last season was LeBron James (104). Last season, LeBron had a 2.3 per game advantage over Kuzma (2.0), but he played 23 fewer games than Kuzma. Westbrook is a poor outside shooter, hitting only 31.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
8. Will Andre Drummond accept a lower salary in order to stay?
Andre Drummond is expected to leave for a variety of reasons. Drummond believed he was a max contract player before the season ended. Drummond averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game before arriving in Los Angeles. Drummond averaged 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 21 games for the Lakers.
Drummond should demand a big pay somewhere, even if his contract numbers aren’t maxed out. Plus, if Davis goes to the center, they’ll have Marc Gasol as a backup, leaving Drummond on the wing. It seems that both parties have reached a mutual agreement to terminate their relationship.
7. Where do you think Dennis Schroder will be dealt?
Schroder’s compensation may range from $15 million to $24 million. Schroder has previously been connected to both the Spurs and the Bulls. For the time being, Schroder’s career is over with the arrival of Westbrook. What will he do now?
Buddy Hield may still be on the Lakers’ radar. Schroder would be an excellent addition to the Kings, while Hield would compensate for the team’s dearth of outside shooters. In any case, there will be a lot of speculation about where the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year runner-up will end up.
6. Has the Lakers’ quest for superstars come to an end?
The Lakers now have LeBron, Westbrook, Davis, Marc Gasol, and Alfonzo McKinnie (non-guaranteed) on the active roster after removing the contracts of Harrell, Kuzma, and KCP. After subtracting McKinnie’s pay, these players have a collective salary of $122 million. The NBA had a $109 million limit and a $132.6 million tax line last year.
The Lakers are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy and may need to replace up to eight roster slots. When you consider that the Lakers could re-sign Ben McClemore, Markieff Morris, and Jared Dudley for a total of $5 million, it’s a no-brainer. When it comes to superstars, the club will most likely be done, but keep an eye out for past superstars wanting to win, like as Blake Griffin on the buyout market. Take a look at the John Wall issue in Houston, for example.
5. Who will take their place on the bench?
Salary limitations and luxury tax levels, as mentioned in the preceding question, will dictate a lot of questions. If they retain McKinnie, you’ll have five guys on the active roster right now. It’s possible that you’ll be able to retain Mclemore, Morris, and Dudley on the roster. If these guys remain, the Lakers will need to add four more players to their roster.
Let’s take a closer look at the tea leaves. Wes Matthews, Schroder, and Drummond are all likely out. The greatest question is over Talen Horton-Tucker, who was instrumental in a possible deal with Kyle Lowry being canceled. Horton-Tucker was seen as a promising young player who might be the team’s starting small forward if he remains, but at what cost? Alex Caruso, who may earn up to $10 million per year, faces the same issue.
4. Is Anthony Davis going to keep refusing to play center?
Davis has been reluctant to shift to the center position for the last several years. His natural position is that of a power forward, but with Westbrook on board, he may shift to a cycle position. According to Bleacher Report, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook all gathered at LeBron’s house to discuss putting their egos aside. Davis mentioned going to center, while LeBron mentioned moving to power forward.
Westbrook would be able to return to point guard if LeBron and Davis were to play in the frontcourt. It will be up to head coach Frank Vogel and his staff to determine how this converts into total win shares.
3. Is Alex Caruso really dependable as the starting shooting guard for this team?
For the time being, ESPN lists Alex Caruso as the team’s shooting guard. Granted, it also has Drummond and Schroder on the roster, but let’s assume Caruso was re-signed by the Lakers and is now the team’s second starting guard.
Caruso had never scored more than 9.2 points per game in his career, but he accomplished it in his second season in the league (2018-2019). Furthermore, there are rumors that the Westbrook deal marks the end of Caruso’s time in Los Angeles. Caruso is a Laker fan favorite, but he can’t be your starting shooting guard at the end of the day.
2. Is DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry officially joining the team?
Rumors circulated that the Lakers had completed a trade for DeMar DeRozan before acquiring Westbrook. After all, DeRozan has said openly that he would want to return to California to play for the Lakers. This sparked speculation that Kyle Lowry, his former Toronto teammate, might join him.
Both players have connections to the Los Angeles Lakers. Lowry was almost traded to the Lakers at the trade deadline, while DeRozan is a local hero. With the acquisition of Lowry, it almost seems as if he has no chance of joining the Lakers unless he accepts a lower salary and accepts a backup role. Lowry hasn’t showed any symptoms of slowing down, so it’s a long shot. DeRozan’s projected $20 million contract or more should almost ensure his return to the United States.
1. Is this squad capable of winning a championship?
The Lakers’ big three of Westbrook, LeBron, and Davis will make them one of the league’s best teams based solely on star power. However, the remainder of the movements will determine whether or not this squad is capable of winning. The Nets negotiated the buyout market when they acquired James Harden, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Lakers don’t even have a complete roster to deal with, much alone a lot of money.
The most difficult task now is to complete the remainder of the roster. One benefit is that the Lakers have established themselves as a destination for veterans looking to win a championship for less money. LeBron will be 37 years old and will no longer be able to carry this team on his shoulders as he once did. He need more assistance than Westbrook. The Lakers should be a contender to reach the NBA Finals if that occurs.