The Los Angeles Lakers have been extremely active during this recent period. Last week, the Lakers brokered a deal with the Washington Wizards to acquire superstar point guard Russell Westbrook in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell. And in the last 24 hours, the Lakers lost fan-favorite guard Alex Caruso to the Chicago Bulls. But Rob Pelinka and his front office have made moves to compensate for that loss. The Lakers acquired Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, and Kent Bazemore to help upgrade the squad.
The loss of Alex Caruso will be especially felt, as he was one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. His performance on the defensive end of the court, especially during the playoffs was spectacular, and a big part of their run to the NBA Championship.
The interesting thing is that all these players have played for the Lakers in the past. Dwight Howard was part of the Lakers for two stints, with his second one leading to an NBA Championship win in 2020. Whereas Trevor Ariza was part of the 2010 NBA Championship Lakers squad led by Kobe Bryant. Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington were part of the Lakers in the past but didn't have similar success with them. The Lakers are clearly building a veteran-heavy squad in order to help them get back to the NBA championship stage once again. But do these moves help the team?
Not if you ask NBA and Lakers reporter Jovan Buha. He took to Twitter to discuss the Los Angeles Lakers' new moves and how they will impact them. Last year, the Lakers were the best defensive team in the NBA. However, the moves that they have made means they lose players like Alex Caruso and Dennis Schroder, who were adept on the defensive end of the court. He believes that the Lakers losing Caruso and Schroder, and adding Westbrook and Ellington does not bode well for their efforts on the defensive end of the court.
"The Lakers are replacing their three top guards from a minutes perspective — Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Dennis Schröder — with Russell Westbrook and Wayne Ellington (and possibly Patty Mills). That is an enormous drop-off for the league’s No. 1 defense."
For the Lakers, they still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who are still two of the best defenders in the league. Whereas, Russell Westbrook has shown his ability to bring his trademark intensity to both ends of the court. But the Lakers will know very well what they need to do in order to compensate for the loss of their defensive stalwarts like Alex Caruso. As free agency rolls on, they will bring in more players who can help the Lakers improve defensively.