The Los Angeles Lakers can be considered an unmitigated disaster last season because they failed to reach the heights expected of them despite having a trio of superstar players. The stars did not fit together, and there was absolutely no defense played by most members of the roster. As expected, head coach Frank Vogel was made the scapegoat and was fired during the offseason. Looking ahead to the 2022-2023 season, the Lakers seem to be going forward with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis at the core. The difference is that there is a new head coach in Darvin Ham who will lead the charge.
The Lakers need to make changes to the roster if they are moving forward as currently constructed. It is obvious that Los Angeles needs to make a trade for an All-Star if one becomes realistically available, but they should also complete the roster with sure-fire competitors that can sign for the mid-level exception or veteran’s minimum contract. The Lakers need to add toughness, defense, and experience to return back to the playoffs, and there could be a nice slew of players who are available. Without further ado, here are the 10 veterans who can sign for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.
10. Bismack Biyombo
2021-22 Statistics: 5.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Bismack Biyombo had a role with the Phoenix Suns last year and did quite well in his limited minutes. The big man played 14.1 MPG and averaged solid numbers along with being a paint protector whenever Deandre Ayton was on the bench. Biyombo will always hustle for boards and try to block shots, so he can be a nice addition to a Lakers roster that is devoid of any shot-blockers outside of Anthony Davis.
Biyombo can sign for a veteran’s minimum contract, because at age 29 with a history of some nagging injuries, he is a low-risk, high-reward option for Los Angeles. Expect Biyombo to play 15-20 MPG on average if he does join the Lakers because he cannot be played more than that due to his lack of offensive moves or shooting. Head coach Darvin Ham wants defense, and Biyombo can certainly help.
9. Markieff Morris
2021-22 Statistics: 7.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Markieff Morris made his presence felt with the Miami Heat as a veteran who brings toughness and also the ability to scuffle in the paint for boards. He is also capable of nailing a jumper when open, so he is not a bad addition to a team that has a few empty spots for veterans. Morris wants to play for championship contenders or at least provide minutes in a big market, and he would not mind playing for the famed Los Angeles Lakers franchise.
LeBron James might also enjoy playing with Morris because the latter knows the game and how to be an irritant on the floor. Remember, Markieff managed to get deep under the always calm Nikola Jokic’s skin, so there is no reason he can’t do the same with other top players around the game. For a minimum contract, the competitive Markieff Morris is not a bad option to bring to a team.
8. Robin Lopez
2021-22 Statistics: 7.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Robin Lopez has been in the NBA for a long time, with a career that has spanned 14 years so far. Lopez is a big man at 7’0” and 281 lbs, meaning he can always be a paint protector and rebounder for any team he plays for. In 17.0 MPG for the tanking Orlando Magic, Lopez provided 7.1 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 36 games, so he can provide similar numbers in a limited time for the Lakers. The center has played on probably the best team he played for with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020, so he has some experience of being on a roster with a superstar player and other talented stars.
The Lakers will likely offer a veteran’s minimum if they want to get Lopez, and the center will likely accept. Darvin Ham wants guys who will hustle on defense, and at 34 years old, Lopez will have no choice but to do that because that is the way he will earn playing time. Even if Robin has not averaged in double-digits in scoring since the 2018 season, he can make an impact in the role he will be given.
7. Serge Ibaka
2021-22 Statistics: 6.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Serge Ibaka is always a player that teams want to acquire because his veteran leadership in the locker room and also his defensive intangibles can always come into use. The former 2-time Blocks champion and 3-time All-Defensive Team member joined the Milwaukee Bucks last year after leaving the Los Angeles Clippers and also won a championship during the 2019 season with the Toronto Raptors.
Ibaka has a long career based on playing with title contenders, even dating back to the early days with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The big man is no longer an elite shot-blocker, but he can still get up to defend the rim and can also make shots when open. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are also familiar with Ibaka as former rivals and teammates, so the big man should fit into the Lakers' schemes rather easily. Head coach Darvin Ham probably won’t mind bringing over a defensive-minded big man to shore up the front line.
6. Blake Griffin
2021-22 Statistics: 6.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Blake Griffin is a shell of himself because the days of being an All-Star power forward with elite hops and offensive skills are long gone. But that doesn’t mean the forward should retire, because he still has a lot left to offer. He was frustrated with the Brooklyn Nets last season because he wasn’t given playing time, and a new challenge could be on the horizon for the former 6-time All-Star. No doubt about it, Griffin wouldn’t mind returning to Los Angeles to play basketball.
As a former Clipper, Griffin was upset when he was traded from Los Angeles. He has a chance to return to the city he had his best days in, and also form another “big name” superteam in his career. Griffin is no longer a star, but he is certainly a big name and will help the Lakers continue to sell tickets with the likes of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard. Even if Blake’s numbers are not great, he can space the floor and is still a talented passer with a high basketball IQ.
5. Tristan Thompson
2021-22 Statistics: 6.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Tristan Thompson can still play basketball, make no mistake about it. The big man is 6’9” and weighs 254 lbs, making him an immovable force when he is in the paint. Thompson has always been an excellent rebounder because he has a tremendous motor and length to get after balls that come off the rim. At age 31, Thompson has aged rather quickly, but he can still give 15-20 MPG at the center spot.
Of course, Tristan can reunite with LeBron James, a duo that helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA championship. The big man appeared in 57 games last year, so he got a decent run of games and showed glimpses of being a capable role player. If Thompson can guarantee 6 PPG and 6 RPG, he is a safe option as a backup big man at a veteran’s minimum contract. Again, Darvin Ham is preaching defense, and Thompson is one of the best paint defenders that are available in the market.
4. Hassan Whiteside
2021-22 Statistics: 8.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.3 SPG, 1.6 BPG
Hassan Whiteside is not the same player he used to be when he was in his prime with the Miami Heat, but the big man can still swallow rebounds and block shots consistently. He is blessed with tremendous length that he can use to be an impact player off the bench in limited minutes. His motor does not run very high, so he would be perfect for a title contender that needs center depth and not a full-time starter. But no doubt, Whiteside can put up numbers in a short amount of time.
The Lakers need to add to their size depth with Anthony Davis likely to miss time during the year with the likes of Dwight Howard playing on his last legs. Whiteside can legitimately average close to a double-double with the Lakers next year, and also block some shots. The Purple and Gold’s defense was atrocious last year, so Whiteside won’t do anything but improve them on that end. For a veteran’s minimum or mid-level, Hassan is worth the addition to a roster that hopes to compete in the West.
3. Goran Dragic
2021-22 Statistics: 7.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Goran Dragic is no longer the prime star guard that made the All-Star Team in 2018, but he can make a difference off the bench with the ball in his hands. The Slovenian has a high basketball IQ and solid offensive intangibles, so he can play backup point guard to Russell Westbrook to score the ball or create for others. Dragic had a decent year in 2022, putting up 7.5 PPG and 4.1 APG across 21 games with the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets.
If Dragic is healthy and motivated to play for a title contender, the point guard can be a solid option for the Los Angeles Lakers to be a firestarter off the bench. Goran can realistically average similar numbers he put up last year with the Lakers because he is a natural offensive talent who will be a blessing for LeBron James in terms of being an efficient playmaker. No one knows if Westbrook will be on the roster at the end of next season, but Dragic can be a different type of guard to balance Russ.
2. LaMarcus Aldridge
2021-22 Statistics: 12.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG
LaMarcus Aldridge put up very solid numbers last year in 47 games with the Brooklyn Nets, and if he is healthy and ready to play, he can average similar PPG and RPG stats for the Lakers. Aldridge is not the same player he used to be when he was a 7-time All-Star, but he can still stroke the ball beautifully from mid-range and also hit the occasional three-pointer. With his back to the basket, LaMarcus can also score effectively.
But Aldridge needs to play in limited minutes because if he was a defensive liability before, he is even more of that now. LaMarcus has never been a quick player and has always been slow-footed, so he will mainly be a primary backup scoring option to Anthony Davis for the Lakers. For a veteran’s minimum contract, LaMarcus is a nice gamble because he can still average in double-digits in scoring.
1. Carmelo Anthony
2021-22 Statistics: 13.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Carmelo Anthony was one of the very few bright spots for the Los Angeles Lakers last year because he put up solid scoring numbers and was arguably the most consistent shooter for the team. The forward averaged 13.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 0.8 BPG on 44.1% FG, 37.5% 3-PT FG, and 83.0% FT. Those are very solid numbers for a player that only made starts in 69 appearances because that is the mark for a very capable 6th man. The Lakers desperately needed it, because one can imagine where they would be if Carmelo did not score like he did.
Anthony is 38 years old, so expecting that kind of production would be a tad harsh to the Hall of Fame forward. But he can still average in double-digits in scoring because of his extremely high offensive IQ, and the Lakers will need a player who can provide that energy off the bench. The Lakers cannot afford to lose Carmelo Anthony because there aren’t many players that they can bring in for a veteran’s minimum contract who can average at least 10 PPG with ease.