The Los Angeles Lakers will have a lot of work to do going into the new NBA season. Last season's defending NBA Champions got eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to the Phoenix Suns. A big part of why the Lakers fell was because of injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the course of the season and the post-season. Clearly, there was no third option to handle the load when the Lakers' dynamic duo were unavailable. And that is what the Lakers will be trying to change this off-season.
So far, despite the off-season just beginning, the Lakers front office has been hard at work. Rumors have linked the Lakers to several stars in the league. So clearly, the Lakers are looking at several options to bolster their squad. But which players being linked have dominated the headlines so far? Here are some of the players that the Lakers have been linked with so far.
Perhaps the biggest superstar on this list, Westbrook could make a return to his hometown of Los Angeles. Rumors suggest that talks between the Lakers and the Wizards in order to complete a trade. Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards last season after the Houston Rockets called time on the Westbrook-Harden tandem after just one season. And Westbrook once again put up individual performances that defied the laws of basketball. His stat lines from different games were absolutely incredible, as he set more records this season. While Westbrook has been criticized for his effectiveness as a first and second option on a championship team, maybe he can be an incredible third option. A trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook would immediately propel the Lakers into championship favorite status. They could provide solid competition to the Brooklyn Nets and their big three next season.
However, Westbrook's performances are not the cause of concern here. The Lakers should ideally look at bringing in a star who can compensate for the Lakers' weaknesses. Their biggest weakness is three-point shooting. Unfortunately, Westbrook has also struggled from beyond the arc. He isn't a strong shooter from beyond the arc, and therefore, could cause problems when LeBron and AD are having an off-night on the court. However, what Westbrook lacks in three-point shooting, he more than compensates for on the offensive end with his points and assists averages during the course of a season.
Perhaps the most surprising name on the list, the Spanish guard is also an option that Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office are considering. Rubio is currently with the Minnesota Timberwolves and could look to join a team with greater aspirations in the NBA. Rubio is tested in the NBA and has shown that he can perform well. However, he is only considered an option if the Lakers are not able to come to an agreement with Dennis Schroder. The German guard has some lofty contract demands for the Lakers, which has proved to be the stumbling block for the Lakers to try and re-sign him. Furthermore, his poor showing in the playoffs doesn't help his case for the big sum that he is looking for.
Rubio could be a solid option at point guard for the Lakers. While he isn't anywhere close to a superstar, the Lakers know what they're getting with Rubio - a consistent and potent guard who can provide scoring and playmaking for the Lakers, especially when LeBron and AD are sitting on the bench. If Schroder does leave LA, keep an eye on Rubio's situation, and see if the Lakers pull the trigger on this move.
Buddy Hield's links to the Los Angeles Lakers have gathered momentum over the last 24 hours. The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the Lakers do have an interest in trading for the sharpshooter in the off-season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are pursuing a third stellar player who provides playmaking and shot creation around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, sources said. The Lakers and Sacramento Kings have discussed a deal centered on guard Buddy Hield, sources tell The Athletic. Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma would be involved in a potential package, per sources. The Lakers have received interest from several teams regarding Kuzma, sources said.
Hield would be a great get for the Lakers going into the new season. He will add the element into their offensive play that is severely lacking - perimeter shooting. With LeBron James orchestrating the offense, and Anthony Davis dominating the paint, they would draw all the attention toward themselves. This would leave Buddy Hield to capitalize on several completely open looks that he would get. Hield would be an excellent addition to the Lakers roster and would help them ascend back up the championship rankings.
The Lakers have been linked to DeMar DeRozan since last year's off-season. DeRozan went to the San Antonio Spurs in 2018 in a trade that led Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. DeRozan had a frustrating first season with the Spurs, as they missed out on the playoffs that year. DeRozan had a player option after his second season, and the Lakers were considering signing him. However, DeRozan chose to stay with the Spurs. This time, DeRozan had a better season with the Spurs, and he was a possible snub as an All-Star.
The biggest question surrounding DeRozan and the Lakers would be his fit. DeRozan can play a few different positions on the court but is primarily a forward. That would mean either LeBron or Anthony Davis need to change positions in order to complete the fit. But on the attacking end, DeRozan would help the Lakers add another solid attacking option to their team. But his defense has stagnated over the years, so the Lakers may hesitate to pull the trigger on him.
The Lakers were negotiating with the Raptors at the trade deadline last season, but a deal fell apart. The Lakers weren't ready to give up Talen Horton-Tucker in any potential deal. However, now they can get Lowry as a free agent without having to give up THT. The Lakers will most likely pass on Dennis Schroder during the off-season, and let several players walk away, or get rid of them through a sign-and-trade. That would clear up enough cap space for them to sign Lowry on the wages that he wants. Lowry would be an excellent addition to the Lakers and would help lead the offense when LeBron and AD will go to the bench.
The biggest complication for Lowry is his age. Lowry is 35 right now, and the Lakers need to ask if they want to add another aging star alongside LeBron James to their wage bill. Despite being that old, Lowry has shown that he can contribute at a high level, and carries valuable championship experience.
The Lakers have a lot of work ahead of them this off-season. But as they have shown in the past, they can do solid work when it comes to making changes to their roster in order to elevate them to a championship level. The Lakers will hope to make a deal that would be the best fit for LeBron and AD next season.