With the taste of champagne still in their memory, the Los Angeles Lakers are doing everything they can to defend their crown and repeat as NBA Champions.
But things haven't exactly been easy for them on that front and, not even halfway through the 2021 season, they're facing obstacles that have them reeling in the standings. Anthony Davis is missing time, LeBron James is logging an absurd amount of minutes, and the supporting cast has been mostly inconsistent.
Needless to say, we can expect Rob Pelinka and the front office to make some adjustments over these next few weeks. And while it's anyone's guess who they might reach for, there are some names that make more sense than others. Here are three that could work and get this Lakers team back on the right track:
Boogie reportedly wasn't happy with his role in Houston, prompting a split on both sides that will result in him becoming a free agent. Cousins will have his pick of the crop, and there will likely be no shortage of suitors. Among them will be the Purple and Gold, who have long searched for some help at the five.
DeMarcus isn't nearly the same player he used to be, and his previous tenure with the Lakers can't be called a success (injuries kept him from suiting up). But if he can stay healthy, the 4x All-Star can be a help for the Lakers.
Averaging 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in 2021, his big body, multi-faceted game, and ability to stretch the floor will help open things up for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The question is, at what cost will he come?
Hassan Whiteside is a complicated character that nobody seems to truly understand. Deemed a "stat stuffer," critics always claim that Whiteside is too worried about filling his personal stat sheet instead of making the plays that help his team win. Headed towards a likely buyout from the Kings, Whiteside's future is certainly in doubt.
If any team can tame him, however, it's got to be the defending Champion. Under LeBron's leadership, he could blossom to become a consistent force in this league, and L.A. would be better off for it.
While Whiteside doesn't have the same floor-spacing abilities as Cousins, he's an exceptional rebounder, one of the game's best shot blockers, and can add some length to a team that needs a bit of frontcourt depth.
This season, he's averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game in 14 minutes.
Even at 36-years-old, and amid his worst statistical season in 10 years, the value remains highs high for JJ Redick. A charismatic veteran sharpshooter, his skills would prove especially useful alongside a playmaker like LeBron, who seems to thrive when he's got weapons to work with on the perimeter.
With his time in New Orleans seemingly drawing to a close, Redick has already surfaced as a trade piece for his team, and the Lakers should have enough assets to get him.
Even at his age, shooters always seem to make themselves useful, and Redick is right up there with the best of them.
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