The Los Angeles Lakers are first in the West with a 49-14 record. With two superstars leading the way, everything seems to be going right for the LA giants. But that doesn't mean the exact same team will be reunited next year.
While LeBron James and Anthony Davis are clearly untradeable, the rest of the roster is pretty much up for grabs. More specifically, there is a great probability that quite a few current Lakers won't be on the squad next year.
The reason for this comes down to two facts: some players will be free agents next year while others will be used as bait for attractive trade offers. Even if the Lakers have a strong squad this year, this doesn't mean they won't look to add more talent next season.
Here are the current Lakers players that may not be playing at Staples Center next year.
Kyle Kuzma was supposed to be the third star for the Los Angeles Lakers. While he is playing decent, and clearly has a high ceiling, it's obvious that the Lakers would move Kuzma for a proven All-Star if they get the chance.
Kuzma is averaging 12.5PPG this season but is only shooting 43.2% from the floor. Out of all the attractive trade bait the Lakers have, Kuzma stands out as the most desirable thanks to his age and potential.
The entire league knows what you are going to get from Danny Green, tough defense and three-point shooting. But Green often goes through stretches where the latter comes and goes.
Green's inconsistency from the floor at times does make him expendable, and the Lakers might use him along with Kuzma to grab a more consistent scorer. Green is a quality role player with championship experience, and there will be suitors out for his signature next year.
McGee has steadily improved his game since joining the Golden State Warriors. After being a laughing stock of the league due to boneheaded plays, McGee has gone all-in on what he does best which is blocking shots and rebounding.
McGee is a very valuable big who can run the floor and defend the rim and has plenty of playoff experience. The Lakers will probably want to keep him but will move him for the right piece.
Fan-favorite Alex Caruso is an ultra-athletic guard who can be a very stout defender at times. Caruso is still only a role player who plays limited minutes off the bench, so teams might be looking to acquire him to give him more minutes.
Caruso is averaging 5.4 PPG in 17.8 MPG this season, and there might be other teams who feel more minutes could produce a massive spike in his production.
Cook is an NBA champion during his time with the Warriors but hasn't been able to make much of an impact with the Lakers so far. He can shoot but doesn't offer much else. The Lakers would move him in a heartbeat if it meant getting a quality starter.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ( Player Option)
KCP has a player option, and will almost certainly opt-in to stay with the Lakers. He is making $12 million per year and is playing for arguably the best team in the West. Why would he leave? But if he does opt-in, the Lakers would be willing to move him for an all-star player.
KCP can start and give quality defense and shooting, so he will remain valuable around the league.
Rajon Rondo ( Player Option)
Like KCP, Rondo will most likely opt-in. He is aging, and can't play heavy minutes anymore. The good news is that he can sometimes find his stroke from deep, so he can still provide value off the bench.
The Lakers would also have no problems moving him for a quality player.
Avery Bradley (Player Option)
The Lakers have received Bradley's career, and he is an excellent defender who can be on the floor during crunch time. Bradley will likely opt-in, and the Lakers would love to use his contract and value to acquire someone a bit better offensively.
Jared Dudley was brought in to provide experience, leadership, and a positive attitude to the locker room. Other than that, he is mostly a benchwarmer. He will be a free agent next year and the Lakers will only consider bringing him back if they need to fill a roster with a veteran.
Howard finally looks happy again, and his performances have helped the Lakers a lot by adding more size alongside Anthony Davis and Javale McGee.
Howard has proven himself this year and earned every dollar of his contract this season. If another team comes knocking for his services, the Lakers might be outpriced.
Daniels can shoot from three, and that's all he can do really. The Lakers will probably look to bring him back for extra shooting, but won't lose much if they let him go.
Similarly, Morris is a veteran who can space the floor as a big and also plays tough defense. But he is behind in the pecking order as a big man, and won't be seeing much minutes. It's likely the Lakers won't bring him back.
Finally, the enigma Dion Waiters. It will be interesting to see how Waiters performs this year, if the season continues, and if he can play his way to a permanent spot on the squad next year.
Waiters have a lot of scoring talent, but only his attitude remains in question.
If he can remain focused, he can be a valuable scorer for the Lakers.