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At this rate, they’re barely recognizable beyond superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, at least for Lakers’ fans without great memories.
Those more familiar with the franchise will recognize several players from past purple-and-gold teams, like Dwight Howard (back for a third time!), Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore and Trevor Ariza. But as far as the 2020-21 squad is concerned, nearly the entire roster has been turned over around the stars.
And the offseason is ongoing, which means more rumblings continue to rise to the surface. Let’s break down the latest buzz in Laker Land.
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The Lakers entered the offseason with clear directives to increase their playmaking and three-point shooting. They scratched the first itch with the Russell Westbrook trade, then attacked the second with a series of signings, including Ellington, Bazemore, Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk.
That’s where a player like Andre Iguodala could help. He’s a cerebral stopper with lightning-quick hands and the right combination of length, strength and mobility to bother most opposing guards and forwards.
It’s clear to see why the Lakers could have interest in the 37-year-old veteran, and it seems to be mutual. Iguodala is reportedly down to his final three destinations: the Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors, per Stadium’s Shams Charania.
In addition to impacting the defense, Iguodala could increase the basketball IQ and add some secondary playmaking to the mix. He’d be a great get if L.A. wins this three-team sweepstakes.
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While the Lakers worked quickly to get Westbrook this offseason, the Washington Wizards wanted more time to dot their I’s, cross their T’s and—most importantly—find a path to free-agent point guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Washington lacked the cap space to sign Dinwiddie outright, which necessitated a sign-and-trade to get him to the District. But the Brooklyn Nets wanted no part of adding to their enormous luxury tax bill, so extra teams were needed to make it work.
Because the Lakers were already getting Westbrook, they were an obvious candidate. However, helping the Nets—a direct competitor for the 2022 crown—wasn’t the most appealing idea, so the Lakers needed more incentive. As The Athletic’s Fred Katz reported, L.A. received that incentive by way of an additional second-round pick sent its way in what became a five-team megadeal.
“The original construction of the deal had the Wizards sending a 2024 and 2028 second-rounder to L.A.,” Katz wrote. “To get the Lakers on board with the five-teamer, though, the Wizards sent them Chicago‘s 2023 second-round pick, too.”
A second-round pick may not seem like much, but considering the many draft debts the Lakers accrued in the Davis deal, the extra selection is still a tradeable asset for a team that needed more of them.
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Alex Caruso became something of a cult hero for Lakers fans across his four seasons with the team. But the front office was apparently more grounded in its admiration of the plucky perimeter player.
“I think the Lakers looked at Alex Caruso and said, ‘We’re happy for you, we really appreciate everything you’ve done, we wish we could keep you, but, you know.’ … He was willing to go back there at three years and $30 million Brian [Windhorst], he actually gave them that option, even at the end—it’s less than what he signed for in Chicago—but even that was more than they were willing to pay. … That was as far as they were willing to go. They looked at Caruso and said, ‘We can go to $7 million a year, but above that it gets too cost-prohibitive.'”
Caruso ultimately inked a four-year, $37 million pact with the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers decided that was too rich, especially when attached to the luxury tax hit they would’ve taken.
L.A. will miss his defense and hustle, but everybody has a price, and his was more than the organization was willing to pay.