The Los Angeles Lakers‘ playoff shortcomings have quickly shifted the franchise’s attention toward revamping the roster. The focus is directly on building a team that can return to NBA title contention. It’s all pushed the Lakers to the verge of acquiring star point guard Russell Westbrook.
Lakers are gearing toward a busy offseason
Since the Lakers‘ early playoff exit, the focus has shifted toward a pivotal offseason.
Los Angeles wants to return to NBA title contention by constructing a strong group of talent around its stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers were bit by the injury bug last season, but the lackluster play of the supporting cast greatly contributed to a failed second championship push.
It’s quickly guided the conversation toward various backcourt options that will become available this summer. All those factors have moved the Lakers to the brink of landing a former NBA MVP.
Lakers officially form a Big 3 after acquiring Russell Westbrook
With the 2021 NBA draft only a few hours away, the Lakers have kicked it into high gear.
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting the Los Angeles has acquired Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster move in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft. Meanwhile, the Lakers are acquiring two future second-round picks.
The move gives Westbrook the opportunity to play in his hometown with the opportunity to compete for an NBA title. The 32-year-old remains one of the league’s top players behind his all-around play. He’s coming off another highly productive campaign averaging a triple-double with 22.2 points, 11.7 assists, and 11.5 rebounds.
He led the league with 38 triple-doubles while being the second player in NBA history to average at least 11 rebounds and 11 assists per game in a season. His 14 triple-doubles in April are an NBA record for a single month. He also posted the third game in league history with at least 20 rebounds and 20 assists.
Westbrook is in the fourth year of his five-year, $206.7 million deal that will pay him $44.2 million next season and holds a roughly $47 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign.
Adding a player of Westbrook’s caliber certainly beefs up the backcourt with a playmaker the Lakers desperately wanted to target this offseason. However, his shooting struggles from 3-point range (30.5% career mark) don’t provide help in that area.
Nonetheless, it’s a big-splash move that shows Los Angeles is moving all-in to compete for another NBA title.
Front office must add outside shooting and depth
With the Lakers acquire Russell Westbrook, it immediately shifts the front office’s gears toward addressing other areas of need.
Los Angeles must work to add more depth through free agency. It will require the team to find players willing to take inexpensive contracts under the allure of competing for an NBA title.
Atop the list will be adding outside shooting to the supporting cast around James, Davis, and Westbrook. Last season, the Lakers ranked 21st on 35.4% shooting from beyond the arc and 25th with 11.1 made 3-pointers per contest.
Los Angeles must also add depth to the frontcourt as Davis and Marc Gasol are the only center options. It places Andre Drummond’s unrestricted free agency as a significant part of the team’s plans.
If Drummonds leaves, Los Angeles could look to bring back Dwight Howard, who proved to be a crucial frontcourt piece that helped Los Angeles capture the 2020 NBA title.
As free agency nears closer, the Lakers will be among the most active teams.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.