Skip to main content

Los Angeles Lakers Could Seriously Reshape Their Roster If They Sign 4 Free Agents

Los Angeles Lakers Could Seriously Reshape Their Roster If They Sign 4 Free Agents

The Los Angeles Lakers had a disastrous season last year, finishing with an atrocious 33-49 record and completely missed the playoffs. The team could not even make the play-in tournament despite having three bonafide Hall of Fame stars on the roster in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. James had a sensational season posting 30.3 PPG, but he was ineffective on defense and was incapable of carrying a team to the playoffs singlehandedly at age 37. Anthony Davis only played in 40 games and was atrocious shooting the ball with an 18.6% 3-point percentage and 71.3% free-throw percentage.

LeBron and Davis were not on the court a ton together, and that was a big factor in the team’s demise. Of course, Russell Westbrook was a disaster because he was inefficient and shot the ball poorly. The former MVP averaged 18.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 7.1 APG, which looks good on paper, but he shot 29.8% from three and 66.7% from the free-throw line while also averaging 3.8 turnovers per game. Russ was a bad fit with LeBron, as both players play better when the other was on the bench. Overall, the trio was unhealthy and inefficient on the floor for the team last year.

But there could be hope for the Lakers heading into next season, even if Russell Westbrook remains on the roster for one more year. Los Angeles needs depth to create a solid depth chart and give head coach Darvin Ham a ton of options to create a better starting lineup and bench. The hope will come in the form of free agents who are immediately available and looking for a chance to show their worth. There are two big men who can battle down low and defend the paint who can add to the big rotation of Anthony Davis and Thomas Bryant. There are also two guards who can defend and provide solid playmaking to kickstart offense. Without further ado, here are the four players the Lakers can add this offseason to boost them back into playoff contention.

Update: We wrote 10 hours ago that the Lakers should sign Dennis Schroder and they did 1 hour ago.

Free Agents The Lakers Can Sign

Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson

2021-22 Season Statistics: 6.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Tristan Thompson is past his best as he approaches age 32, but he is still one of the best rebounders in the NBA as a bench player. He can come in, and within a few minutes, he can grab the ball off the rim and hustle for loose balls. Of course, he was a former teammate of LeBron James and did a solid job helping the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA championship. The center is older now, but his basketball IQ and size remain unchanged.

Thompson played on 3 teams last year but averaged 15.7 MPG and put up decent numbers considering he was limited in playing time. There is hope that LeBron James and Darvin Ham will bring out the best of Tristan again, and playing 20 MPG is not too far-fetched for the 2012 All-Rookie member. The Lakers need cover for Anthony Davis and Thomas Bryant, who is returning from a major injury, so Thompson is a perfect fit in terms of chemistry and playing style. Remember, the Lakers won the 2020 championship thanks to their size and defense, and Thompson brings both aspects as a solid level off the bench.

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins

2021-22 Season Statistics: 9.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG

DeMarcus Cousins was a valuable member of the Denver Nuggets last year, backing up MVP Nikola Jokic and posting very solid numbers for Denver. The big man started out the season with the Milwaukee Bucks before landing in Denver, and his numbers remained unchanged. He averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG last year as a whole, shooting 46.0% from the field, 30.3% from three, and 76.0% from the line. A big man with tremendous strength and skill, Cousins can be a valuable player in limited spurts.

Of course, his emotional outbursts can be an annoying attribute of the talented player. His inability to keep cool-headed in tight games does prevent him from playing more minutes than he should, and most coaches in the NBA can’t seem to find a way to keep him level-headed. But LeBron James, Darvin Ham, and the Lakers could take a gamble and make the most out of his 9 and 5 averages. Once again, Cousins is a decent backup who can pass, rebound, and score around the rim.

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe

2021-22 Season Statistics: 9.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Eric Bledsoe is not the same player that made 2 All-Defensive Teams, but he can still defend at an above-average level at age 32. The guard can play point and shooting guard and still has solid athleticism in terms of attacking the rim, defending the ball, and playing hard. Bledsoe put up decent numbers last year, and his all-around ability is evidenced, considering he only averaged 25.2 MPG. For the Lakers, Eric can put up the same numbers.

Expect Bledsoe to compete for the starting lineup if he is acquired because he brings rebounding, passing, and defense at a very solid level and was also known as “Mini-LeBron” in his prime with the Los Angeles Clippers. Those days are long gone since Bledsoe has dealt with a variety of injuries since his prime days. But the veteran guard can do a lot on the floor in limited spurts, and the Lakers could bring out the best of him.

Dennis Schroder (Signed)

Dennis Schroder

2021-22 Season Statistics: 13.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder reportedly turned down a contract extension worth over $80 million with the hopes of finding a bigger contract elsewhere. That money never came, but he has a chance to return back to the Purple and Gold to provide his solid playmaking and scoring ability as a 6th man. Dennis performs best in a 6th man role, as evidenced by his season in 2020 with the Oklahoma City Thunder when he posted 18.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 4.0 APG. A speedy point guard, Dennis is a load to handle off the bench.

Schroder could be a shrewd move for the Lakers because he could be a player that shares the court with LeBron James throughout the season in place of Russell Westbrook. When LeBron gets his rest, Westbrook can take over and be a primary scorer and ball-handler, which is his best role. Los Angeles needs better point guard play, and a player that can score at least 14 PPG off the bench is an immediate improvement to the depth chart. No doubt about it, Dennis would also be a better fit alongside LeBron than Russ will ever be.

Update: Dennis Schroder has since signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year, $2.64 million deal.

An Improved Depth Chart To Return To The Playoffs

Point Guards - Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schroder, Kendrick Nunn

Shooting Guards - Eric Bledsoe, Patrick Beverley, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV

Small Forwards - LeBron James, Troy Brown Jr.

Power Forwards - Anthony Davis, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Tristan Thompson

Centers - Thomas Bryant, DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones

Obviously, these four players deepen the Los Angeles Lakers across the board. The biggest improvement is in the guard department because they will have 6 or 7 players who will provide significant minutes, considering Kendrick Nunn will return back to form. Russell Westbrook will have to start based on reputation and to prevent team chemistry issues, but he does not necessarily have to share the court with LeBron James for long stretches of time. Rather, Dennis Schroder can come in when The King is on the court past the first quarter and could be a designated closer at times. Of course, Darvin Ham will need to be clever in giving Russ closing minutes throughout the season to keep him motivated.

Kendrick Nunn could also come back to form slowly with Schroder on the team instead of having the pressure to perform and compete with Russell Westbrook. Without pressure, Nunn can slowly return and prove he deserves to be a valuable member off the bench as well. Eric Bledsoe adds another perimeter defender and hustle-first player alongside Patrick Beverley, and both players can bring different skill sets to the floor. Again, it is up to Darvin Ham to maximize his lineups and throw players on the court, depending on the matchups.

Expect Austin Reaves to have an improved season, while Lonnie Walker IV can bring some of the Gregg Popovich training to the floor for the Lakers. Reaves ended up starting 19 games for the Lakers last year and averaged 23.2 MPG despite being an undrafted rookie. Walker IV can provide two-way play to help Reaves ease himself into the lineup, and the depth will be very impressive with the addition of Schroder and Bledsoe. The Lakers can have 7 players who will compete for the guard spots and also take up the small forward spot to create a winning atmosphere in the backcourt. Instead of relying on an undrafted rookie and out-of-form point guard, the Lakers can spark competition in a very positive manner.

The big man rotation will also improve with the additions of Tristan Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. The Lakers need to add more size because Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones will not be enough for the team. Anthony Davis will likely play under 70 games again, so providing cover for the big man is absolutely essential. Cousins is a powerhouse player who will bang down low, make threes, and rebound while adding an edge to the floor. Again, Ham will need to limit “Boogie’s” minutes to keep him level-headed. He can also rotate Boogie with Tristan Thompson, a player that was invaluable alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.

LeBron James will be the heart of the team, even at age 38, so having cover around him will be essential. Troy Brown Jr is not a star player, but he can provide a shift in terms of making outside shots and providing energy. Juan Toscano-Anderson could prove to be a solid signing because of his experience with the Golden State Warriors, and Thomas Bryant can be a positive if he can return to his form from two seasons ago. Bryant averaged 14.3 PPG and 6.1 RPG while shooting 42.9% from three in 10 games in 2021 before his injury, so if he can return to that form, the Lakers will be a problem again.

No doubt about it, the Lakers can add tremendous depth with these 4 free-agent signings. Dennis Schroder would be the best move to provide immediate competition to Russell Westbrook and a player that will fit better with LeBron James. The Lakers lacked the 6th man last year, and they can fix that by bringing in the former Atlanta Hawks starter, Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe is another version of Patrick Beverley, and defense is what the Lakers need. Finally, Thompson and Cousins add size and paint defense to provide cover for All-Star Anthony Davis, two massive factors in bringing the playoff days back in Los Angeles. 


Los Angeles Lakers Players' Salaries For The 2022-23 NBA Season

Russell Westbrook vs. Allen Iverson Career Comparison: Which Guard Is Truly The Greater Player?

25 Best Small Forwards For The 2022-23 NBA Season

The Fastest NBA Players To Reach 30,000 Career Points

NBA Players With The Most 30-Point Games In The NBA Finals